Parents Struggle to Find Inoculated Nannies

Filed under: In The News

Could getting flu shots give nannies an edge in the job market? Credit: Corbis

"Extensive references available. Oh, and I've had all my shots."

Now that's what potential employers like to see in a nanny.

The Los Angeles Times reports that nannies who have been vaccinated against H1N1 and other diseases have a distinct advantage these days in the job market.

That's because many nannies can't -- or won't -- get their shots. Sometimes the vaccines are in short supply. In a lot of cases, however, nannies fear horror stories about possible side effects.

A common rumor is that vaccines cause autism in children. Most of the rumors are about children -- not prospective mothers -- receiving the vaccines. And even so, scientific studies have largely ruled out vaccines as a cause for autism.

Nonetheless, rumors about vaccines being a government conspiracy, as well as the cause of everything from autism to sterility, persist.

Professional nanny Blanca Duarte tells the newspaper she heard the rumor about sterility. Plus, she says she got sick after a flu vaccination years ago.

"For three weeks I could not work," Duarte tells The Times. "After that, I said no more."

The Times reports some nannies see an opportunity in advertising themselves as fully inoculated. This especially comforts parents of newborns too young to get some shots.

Still, finding an inoculated nanny can be a chore.

"Ugh! I am so frustrated right now that I could explode," the Times quotes a mother posting on "I have been interviewing potential nannies for the past several weeks. I finally found one that I was feeling confident that I would like to hire. I called to get more info for reference check, and also I had forgot to ask if they were OK with getting both flu and swine vaccine this year. The response was no."

Mothers sometimes have a problem bringing up the subject of shots, Claudia Kahn tells The Times. She's the founder and owner of The Help Company in Santa Monica, Calif., which serves families in both Los Angeles and New York City.

"It's a very touchy discussion, to ask people to get vaccinated," Kahn tells the newspaper. "There's a fine line about medical things, and people are questioning whether they're allowed to ask."

The Times reports California legal experts field calls from anxious parents.

"What I'm hearing from families is there does seem to be some push-back from nannies about getting the shot," Bob King tells the paper. He's a lawyer and founder of Legally Nanny in Irvine, Calif. The firm provides legal advice to families and nanny agencies.

Although it is a violation of federal anti-discrimination law for agencies to screen nannies based on their medical histories, including vaccinations, it is not illegal for parents to screen or fire nannies for refusing to get vaccinated, King tells The Times.

The push-back, he adds, is "largely driven by fear from the nannies."

Dr. Guillermo Diaz of QueensCare Family Clinic in Hollywood tells the Times the rumors are hard to control.

"Nannies have networks and speak among them, so if one nanny says no and it spreads, then it's all over," he tells the paper.

Related: Risks of Multiple Vaccinations

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