It’s that time of year when people, especially parents, get up in arms over a simple little needle prick…the flu shot.
The flu shot is a recommended innoculation, especially for certain populations-children among them. And yet, if the buzz on my mom community board is any indication, the current climate is very anti flu shot.
I can’t really say I understand why.
Children who are very young are most at risk for getting very sick because their immune systems are not fully developed yet. Opponents of the shot say that their young children aren’t in day care and therefore aren’t being socialized and don’t need it, invoking the “it’s fine for other kids but not mine” defense. To them, I have to ask…does that mean you NEVER take your kid out…EVER? You never take them grocery shopping, or to Target, or with you when you’re shopping? You never take them outside? You and your spouse never leave the home and all the earthly possessions you need are delivered via the internet and then sent through some kind of decontamination chamber? (Wow that’s gotta be hell on your ice cream…) Hate to break it to you, but there’s no real way to prevent them from being exposed to germs, and diseases like the flu are airborne. They don’t need to be touched by a sick person. Their best defense is a flu shot.
Children who are in school are not at such a high risk for death, but they are at risk for illness, and thus a loss of school and learning time. Illness rips through a school faster than you can imagine. A first grader sneezes at one end of the building and by lunch the sixth graders have broken out in smallpox. Well, not quite, but it often felt that way when I was teaching. Something would be going around and once you were missing four or five kids out of a twenty kid class, you had to ask yourself if you really should move ahead and introduce something new. Having taught in schools in different socioeconomic brackets, I can tell you that while middle and upper class kids may have a better chance of not having a week out impact their education, it’s not always the case, and often in the poorer more urban schools (especially with a child whose parents don’t speak English or are illiterate, or who never finished high school) the missed week of school is often irrecoverable. A flu shot will not prevent them from getting sick, but being out one or two days is a vast improvement over five or more missed days. Not to mention that most school require doctor’s notes for absences of more than 3 days, and that will mean a co-pay for you (if you have insurance) or a much bigger bill than the flu shot would have been (if you don’t).
It’s just common sense…get your kid the flu shot. If you want to make a stand, do it with your own body, not that of your child’s.