Flu shots… and other enigmas of parenting!

(Check out the scar on baby Ana’s left arm. This will make sense later on in the blog. I promise.)

(And I couldn’t post that picture without posting this one, which shows her wonderful reaction to my kiss. Ha!)
So, a few months ago, I asked my pediatrician about the flu shot. My girls have never gotten one, but after last year’s bout with something similar to the flu (vomit galore, fevers soaring, zombielike behavior), I figured it wouldn’t hurt anything to have them better protected this year.

Unfortunately, the doctor’s office has had a shortage. And the waiting list has been so long that even all these months later, our girls still haven’t gotten one. I called today to ask again and was told that they were sending people to the public health offices. I asked if there would be a concern with Emma taking one with her drug allergy. The nurse told me that as long as she wasn’t allergic to eggs (???), she wouldn’t have a problem with the flu shot. (Which makes me wonder what they put in those things, but whatever. I’m just not going to think about it.) I asked her what the pediatrician is recommending concerning the H1N1. She said, and I quote, “the doctor isn’t expressing an opinion either way.” Our pediatrician isn’t one to hold back when it comes to any and all shots, so I’m taking this lack of enthusiasm as a less than ringing endorsement. We’ve heard varying opinions from several people — doctors who recommend it, patients who have taken it, doctors who don’t recommend it, people who don’t take ANY vaccines — and we’re just a bit confused.

Not that I’m asking for national healthcare or anything, but I at least appreciated the way it was done in Japan. You got your slip of paper in the mail, telling you when you’d get what shots the doctors had agreed you needed, and you got it done. I remember expressing some reluctance in vaccinating Ana for TB, because the scar would look awful for a year (see the photo above!) and because her risk of getting TB in the US is minuscule, but ALL Japanese children were required to get the shot. So, Ana did, too. They knew better than I did, having studied medicine and having lived where TB once killed hundreds of children every year. I trusted their advice and did what they suggested. (And three years after she got that shot, she still has a very faint scar. And a lifelong immunity to TB, which will be great if she ever lives in a third world country, I guess.)

And now? We’re just being left to decide what we need/don’t need. And I understand that the seasonal flu rarely kills anyone, so there’s not such a conundrum involved in choosing whether or not to take that one. But with all of the scary stories we’re hearing about what can happen with the swine flu, we’re left wringing our hands over the shortage of those vaccines and how widely it’s disputed, wondering if our choice either way is ultimately going to have a life or death effect on our children.

What do we do?! What do we do if we’re being left to make choices that we are in NO WAY qualified to make?! Is all of parenthood like this?! Feeling unqualified and wondering if you’re making the right decisions! AHHHH!!!

That’s it. I’m moving back to Japan, where they don’t give you a choice either way, at least when it comes to health issues. (And everyone lives well into their hundreds, so they must be doing something right!)

2 thoughts on “Flu shots… and other enigmas of parenting!

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