You Would Think I’d Be Against the Flu Shot, You Would be Wrong

When I met Dr D I was the most holistic mom I knew. I’m sure there were way more holistic moms out in California or something. However I’m from the midwest, and 9 years ago being holistic was akin to voodoo. I definitely got the stink eye when I fed my kid organic, shunned Disney fruit snacks and didn’t give my son the MMR vaccine until he was 5.

The thing about life is, you may expect that things will go a certain way, you may even have good reason for your confidence, it’s just about then that you can

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be sure that life will throw you a curve ball.

Isaiah was my curve ball.

Isaiah was the most amazing, happy, goofy baby ever. An amazing happy goofy baby with challenges. Challenges that mystified my very knowledgable brain. For I am nothing if not a wealth of information.

But there are some things you don’t learn until you need to. And I hadn’t learned these things yet. Like the myriad of reasons why my son would be covered in eczema even past the “infant acne” stage. Like how easy it was to catch RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). Like why he choked when he drank water, and threw up if he ate baby food beyond the pureed stage.

I certainly never thought I would have to answer these questions. I fed him organic food, said no to antibiotics, avoided skin care products with bad chemicals and fragrances, and stuck to a more gentle vaccine schedule.

I had an idea in my head of how things would be. And they weren’t.

But this isn’t a post about that. Because no matter how tough things got, I was tougher.

But there was something that threw me. Something I thought I had an answer for.

When Isaiah was 9 months old we discovered that he was anaphylactic (deathly allergic) to eggs. When he was 3 he had an anaphylactic reaction to eggs, and could have died if not for my powers of observation and amazing reaction time. (any mom would do it)

In 2009 H1N1 (the swine flu) terrified the world. So much so that a vaccine was made as quickly as possible, and in the beginning only the highest risk population was vaccinated.

Isaiah was considered high risk.

I was not going to do it.

I was under a common misconception that you can actually get sick from the flu shot, and I didn’t want Isaiah or myself getting the flu.

Most of all, the only flu vaccine available was cultured in egg. Egg had almost killed Isaiah. Put those two things together and it wasn’t worth the risk.

I was dead wrong.

We saw Dr D that December. He said “Are we doing Isaiah’s flu shot today?”

“Uhm, no. Remember, he’s anaphylactic to egg.”

“Right, so we’ll just skin test for the vaccine wait 20 minutes and then give it to him. Then we’ll have you wait another 30 minutes or so to make sure he’s okay”

“That seems like an awful lot of trouble to go through for a vaccine that will probably make him sick, and probably won’t do any good anyway.”

And then I got the look. I had gotten it from him before. He gets all serious, and looks you right in the eye.

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“Look, Isaiah looks like a tough guy. But his body is not that tough. If he get’s the flu he could die. Your little guy already has a compromised immune system and he has asthma. If he get’s the flu he would probably wind up in the hospital, which none of us wants. As for being against the flu shot, there are a lot of misconceptions out there. The fact is, the flu shot cannot make you sick because the virus used for the vaccination is dead. His arm might be a little sore, but he’ll be fine.

I also want to make sure you and your husband, and anyone who comes into regular contact with Isaiah gets the flu shot. The best way to keep him safe is to make sure that the people surrounding him don’t get sick either.”

I didn’t have anything to say. I knew he was right. It was a case of my ideology getting ahead of my common sense. I had watched this boy go through RSV and spent an agonizing night in the ER hoping he wouldn’t need to be admitted. The thought of seeing that, maybe times 10? Well, I was smarter than that.

To make things easier for Isaiah now, I get the flu shot with him at Dr D’s office. Even though he gets allergy shots every two weeks the flu shot freaks him out. Well, three shots in one day would probably freak anyone out.

My husband goes to the CVS Minute Clinic. For him, it’s easy and fast and free with our insurance. And since he’s a man-flu, oh no I’m so sick I can’t move hypochondriac, he can’t get there fast enough once the flu vaccine arrives in October!

So what I want to say to all of you who may be against the flu shot is this: maybe you’re a perfectly healthy adult who hasn’t been sick in ages. Maybe you’ve never got the flu shot and never gotten the flu. But what if this year you get the flu? What if you get the flu and don’t realize that’s what you have until after you’ve spent the day with your 80-year-old mother-in-law, or your sister’s asthmatic son? Getting the flu vaccine is the single most effective way to avoid getting the flu. What’s it to you? A sore arm for a day? In the end its your decision, just like it was mine.

 

*You need to know that this post is a completely true story, and I used it to illustrate how important it is to get the flu shot every year. In return for sharing the information I would have shared anyway, I was compensated by CVS Minute Clinic.

 
Tweet: From totally natural to totally on board with the #FluShot, it might be a bigger deal than you think. http://ctt.ec/6md18+ @jenkehl

  • I agree with you that for immune-compromised people and their immediate family, a flue shot would make sense. However, it was weird that during the H1N1-outbreak, when adults got into fist-fights over a dose in the U.S., the vaccine was rotting in Germany where hardly anyone got it. Still, we did not have a mass-outbreak of he disease there. Living in the U.S. at the time and being pregnant, I still rejected the shot, because I considered the risk small for myself, working in a small office and not getting in touch with sick people on a regular basis (like nurses or people working in doctor’s offices do). We also don’t do flue shots now, for the same reasons. Side effects of the shot can indeed be flue-like symptoms, my dad had them every year while he was still required to get the shot because of his work. I may get the shot next year to see if it really helps with my sinus infections, as the doctor recommended, but not while I’m pregnant or nursing.

    Thanks for sharing the info, Jen!ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Yeah, like I said it was never part of my big plan. And I know plenty of people who don’t get the flu shot. But the truth is, I went 15 years without getting the flu. You’re not going to get the flu every year. But when you do, that’s huge. And of course having a high risk child changes everything! Thanks for stopping by!ReplyCancel

  • We never used to get the flu shot, until my daughter got the swine flu and was down for the count for five days. She also has asthma, so all four of us get the shot. We go to the CVS clinic every October, and never had any problems.ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Hi Dana! Yeah my girlfriend got it and was out for a full week. She couldn’t get out of bed and her mom had to come and take care of her kids. I can’t imagine being that sick, and hope I don’t have to find out!ReplyCancel

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