recently, there has been a lot of discussion on a moms list i’m on about FluMist — whether it’s better to get a flu shot or let your older-than-two year old sniff up that misty stuff. as a mom who has a daughter who wildly hates shots, this is something near and dear to my heart. (in fact, i’m embarrassed to state that BC has not had a flu shot yet this year, thanks to her performance when she hid under a desk. it took two nurses, a doctor, and me to get her out. but i’m going to get her there.)
my kids cannot have Flu Mist, and it’s all my fault. see, Flu Mist is a live vaccine. you shed that yummy influenza germy goodness once you get it, and if you’re in the vicinity of a person who has a weakened immune system, you can make them deathly ill. so it’s shots for them, all the way. (we also have fun thinking about other live shots. i just try to make sure they get it right after i’ve had my IVig so that i have maximum infection fighting power in me, should i get sick. don’t know if it would actually work in reality, but it’s the only thing i can do. those kids are not going without their shots. period.)
i do get nervous about FluMist, though — there are a lot of grandmas and grandpas, for example, who may be exposed to their recently-misted grandkids. and they may get really sick because of it. and we’re not talking just a simple cough or sniffle.
still, at least i guess they’re getting vaccinated. it just reminds me of the situation with antibacterial soap and gel: someone devised it, thinking it will be an exceptionally easy way to kill even more germs than regular soap. what it does now is make those bacteria stronger and more antibiotic-resistant. but progress is all about making things easier for us, and this soap and gel was supposed to be emblematic of progress. and it is: progress gone awry. and now, we’re so damned frightened of making our kids have a few seconds of pain that we crave another solution, even if it might mean a public health problem for others.
i wonder whether ours is the first generation to wuss out over shots, as a friend put it. we do not remember the polio epidemic; we cannot recall smallpox. we don’t know how horrible certain illnesses can be. heaven forbid our children have moments of pain, as if the pain is worse than the medical issue it’s meant to stave off. and some vaccines aren’t perfect; people sometimes get chickenpox even after receiving the vaccine. but the vaccines help more than they don’t; and i feel very strongly about immunizations.
that’s why i am sick to my stomach about a homeschooling network that exists specifically to homeschool because they do not want to give their children immunizations. i find this repugnant. while i have learned a lot about homeschooling since shooting my mouth off awhile back; and while i have a new respect for some who have chosen that path; this, to me, this particular thread is an outrage. this is not about education; this is a public health issue. to me, it’s tantamount to child abuse: these kids are sitting ducks for measles, polio, and other horrible illnesses. and no, it’s not just a week in bed and they’re better again, people.
and what will you do then — pray that they get better? exhaust your healthcare (if you have it) or else exhaust tax dollars (if you don’t)? all because you didn’t want them to get a shot?
i get really sick and tired about parental paranoia over the government. our government isn’t perfect. duh. but people talk about federal agencies as if they are composed entirely of automotons. guess what, folks: government agencies have just as many mindless people as you do in your office. there are people who care, and people who don’t. but mostly, and especially in the health sector, they do. people stake their careers on getting the info right. they know they have other peoples’ lives on the line. they’re not advocating immunizations because they think it’s a fun thing to do: they do it because they think it’s the right thing to do. and not just for your child — they’re thinking more globally. that’s what public health is all about.
so just as i will get extremely pissed at parents who let their babies swim in pools without plastic pants on (they put them in huggies swimmers and then marvel that their poop gets through, closing the pool down for fear of an E coli experience), i get extremely pissed at the parents who don’t immunize. oh, you say, you can’t trust the government. you don’t want the state telling you what to do with the precious children you’ve been entrusted.
i wonder who the hell entrusted you with those babes. if it was G-d, She must have been having a day off and you lucked out and squeezed through anyway.