There’s been a lot of interesting talk among moms about whether children should get a flu shot or not. My son, Ricky, was born in September of 2012, and I remember thinking that he didn’t need a flu shot – we just weren’t going to leave the house for the winter. And while that would have been a highly ideal situation, it just wasn’t very realistic. After all, we live in Minnesota, land of the ten thousand snows. Winter lasts about five months out of the year – I would go crazy if I stayed inside our little house for that many days on end. Not to mention we’d likely run out of groceries.
Then I learned babies his age couldn’t get a flu shot. So despite the fact that we would occasionally leave the house, I just figured I’d keep him away from people – sheltered in a wrap or covered in his carseat when we ran to the store. Things were going well. Until January. While my baby wasn’t exposed to other children very often, my husband did catch the flu – luckily, baby and I only got a very mild version. I think because I had gotten the flu shot- and kept my infant pretty isolated from my sick hubby – we were able to contain it’s effects.
Last year was Ricky’s first winter daycare experience. After our interaction with the flu the previous year – and the fact that toddlers spread things back and forth like crazy – both Ricky and I got the flu shot. At that age, we actually had to go in for two shots – spaced 30 days apart. And while seeing my little guy get poked and prodded wasn’t what I had really wanted to do that morning, it was completely worth it. While he did catch a case of the flu in January (from school this time), it was a very mild version that lasted 24 hours and only involved two instances of projectile vomit. I felt pretty lucky. Unfortunately, my husband skipped his flu shot and was sick for about a week.
Getting a flu shot for your child can be a highly personal decision. For some, vaccines are something they’d like to delay. And that’s ok. But for my family, flu shots are a must. Being the mom of a toddler, I’ve seen a lot of illnesses come and go within our household over the last two years. Colds, enterovirus, the flu, ear infections, etc. Seeing your child go through an illness can be one of the hardest things you’ll experience – if you could take their pain away and give it to yourself, you’d do it in a heartbeat.
For me, doing what I can to decrease his chances of catching a nasty bug is a top priority. And if that means he gets a flu shot that causes a mild version of the flu, I’ve done something to decrease the severity of his symptoms – which is still better than a full force version of the flu. Getting a flu shot means he’s less likely to catch the flu in the first place. It means if he does get sick, he can get better, faster. And it means fewer instances of being covered in puke for mama. All positives in my book.
For my family, it has been the right choice. My husband didn’t grow up getting a flu shot, and he’s ok with taking his chances over the winter. No matter what your choice is, it’s important to know what your options are, the steps you can take to protect your child against the flu and what the possible complications can be. Educating yourself can help you make the best decision for your kids and your family – and really, that’s what’s most important when it comes to deciding whether or not to get a flu shot for your child.