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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Get the Flu Shot, or Not?

It's that time of year again.  Flu season is knocking at the door and the media at large is pushing the flu shot as the thing responsible parents do to protect their families from sickness and even death.  It's everywhere - at the local drug store, on the 5:00 news, in the papers, on the talk shows, in the parenting magazines, at the doctor's office - just to name a few. 

I have a few "wheezers" (asthma runs on my hubby's side) in the family, so my pediatrician has always convinced me that the flu would hit them particularly hard and the flu vaccine would be the best way to keep them healthy throughout the winter.  I have always went along with it, but am questioning it this year.
Here's one of the "little wheezers" doing a nebulizer treatment yesterday.
It seems to me that the medical establishment has a lock on this issue.  If you get sick, they cover themselves by saying that it was not the strain of the flu that the vaccine prevented against.  If you don't get sick, then the shot did its job by keeping you healthy.  Seems like a win/win, doesn't it?

For better or worse, I've begun researching the flu vaccine on-line.  I'm trying to only read reputable websites and stay away from anyone with a clear agenda who could profit from the flu shot (ie: pharmaceutical companies and their affiliates).  I have also spoken with friends in the medical field and asked what they do with their own children as well as themselves.  So, what has my fact finding mission resulted in?  Mostly more uncertainty about what to do. 

Esther has her 1 year check-up next week and our pediatrician is expecting me to give all the children the flu shot at the appointment.  We were in for a sick visit last week and that is what she suggested.  I know that I am their mother and have the final say about this vaccination.  So, what's holding me back?  I haven't read any really conclusive evidence that the flu shot works.  I also don't like that most companies use mercury in their vaccine and do not want that injected into my children.  Additionally, the H1N1 is bundled with the flu shot this year and I'm not a huge fan of the lack of accountability or research on the part of that particular vaccine.

So, am I being paranoid?  I realize this could be a loaded question with many parents withholding all vaccinations.  I do, for the most part, keep to the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested vaccination schedule.  I'm just not sure about this one.

God Bless!

Heather :-)