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Cough, Cough ... Now What?

It's that time of year again. And no, I don't mean the start of the holidays.

The first fall croup episode hit one of the kids in August. Despite the 90+-degree weather outside at the time, the pulmonologist's response: It's fall.

Um. REALLY?

Yes, he said. "I'm seeing lots of croup cases."

Well, if August is fall, October must surely be cold and flu season. At least that's what I'm seeing in my sneezing, coughing household. The pediatrician started offering flu shots several weeks ago, just before infant cold medicines were pulled off the market and an FDA panel recommended not giving untested cough and cold medicines to kids under age 6.

Given that we're a household with an asthmatic child, a flu shot is a requirement. The kids have had them since they were infants. But what about the adults? If I had the flu, would I even know that's what it was? Or would I just think it's yet another winter cold? Thus far, we're one for two on the parents. One of the kids balked at getting a flu shot. So, I got one just to show him that it didn't hurt. (Yeah, he didn't believe me either!)

Do you and your kids get the flu shot or the FluMist vaccine -- which apparently is now safe for kids ages 2 and up? And are you planning to avoid over-the-counter cough and cold medicines or will you continue using them?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  October 29, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers , Preschoolers
Previous: Trick or Treat? | Next: Questions Unanswered

Comments


Trust me, if you have the flu, you know it is not just your run-of-the-mill cold! The one year I didn't get a flu shot I got the flu on Christmas Day. I was sick through New Years. Get your flu shots!

Posted by: MDMom | October 29, 2007 7:47 AM | Report abuse

"One of the kids balked at getting a flu shot"

Did the kid get it? Kids balk at lots of things but as parents, our rules trump their balks.

For us, flu shots for all every year. Sure they hurt but the hurt is gone by the next day.

Posted by: Father of 2 | October 29, 2007 8:03 AM | Report abuse

DD gets a flu shot, because the doctor says she should. I do not get one -- never have, I hope I never will.

Inconsistent? Yep. But I can't really say I care. I'll take more chances with my health than with DD's.

Posted by: newsahm | October 29, 2007 8:36 AM | Report abuse

I got flu about 15 years ago - wiped me out for 2 weeks. I get a flu shot every year now! My 5 y.o. DD will get one this year as she is starting to show signs of asthma.

Posted by: shandavegh | October 29, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

If you have the flu, you'll know it. First a sneeze, then two hours later you have a fever of 101 and feel like you were run over by a Mack truck. A cold is much more subtly. A couple sneezes, a drippy nose, maybe a slight fever the next day. And never that Mack truck feeling, perhaps just a small hybrid.

I've heard some in the medical community suggest that flu shots just do more to breed worse flu bugs, kind of like how overuse of antibiotics breeds nastier bacteria. I wonder if that is just a fringe opinion, or if its a common thought? Whatever it is, its not that of my doctor or my specialist, who both consider me high risk and insist on flu and pneumonia. Oh yeah, I love being 32 and getting a pneumonia shot when its generally only recommended for those over 60. *sigh*

Posted by: rubytuesday | October 29, 2007 8:53 AM | Report abuse

We all get them and we don't get the flu- so that is pretty awesome to me...Flu stinks.

Posted by: Momof5 | October 29, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I would like to get my DD the flu shot, but she has an egg allergy so she can't (on my ped's advice we got it last year, and she ended up covered in hives- not good and I'm pissed with myself for listening to her.)


Posted by: reston, va | October 29, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

My work pays for me to get a flu shot and for my kid (since he's on my health plan.) DH gets a flu shot bc he is a teacher and is exposed to so much stuff. We get the shot proper instead of the mist, even if there is the "ohno, needle!" problem, it has less side effects than FluMist.

Posted by: RiverCityRoller | October 29, 2007 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Where does one get the FluMist, anyhow?

Posted by: Bob | October 29, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I don't believe this... "I wouldn't know if I had the flu or a run of the mill cold?"

Do you have any idea what you write about?

You must never have had the flu in your life. Two uncles in my family were killed by the influenza as kids. It's not a bad cold, it kills people. How intellectually lazy IS this column?

Posted by: DCer | October 29, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

ok, so there's no reason to be rude to the columnist. Influenza is a viral disease generally characterized by fever, headaches, sore throat, body aches and congestion of the nose. It's dangerous for people who have weak immune systems, like the elderly. For some people, it might feel like a really, really bad cold with a fever, and some people it might make you feel even more sick.
Actually, I've never gotten a flu shot, nor has my husband or my kids. (I'm not anti-vaccine, we have all had the mandatory vaccines). My husband and I haven't gotten the flu in ages (knock on wood) and my kids have never had the flu. I'm just against over medication and prefer encouraging frequent hand washing and other preventive measures.

Posted by: mommywriter | October 29, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Yes, it is possible to have the flu and not know it. When my daughter was an infant, she was very sick with a fever, and at the same time I had sniffles and coughs and felt horrible. I was so concerned about her that I ignored my own symptoms. It was only when I passed out in the pediatrician's office that I realized how sick I was. The doctor told me that both my daughter and I had the flu.
Because my daughter also developed some wheezing, she has had a flu shot every year since year 1. The doctor told me that the whole household should get shots every year because if one of us brought the virus home, she could still get a mild case.

Posted by: dca | October 29, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

My whole family (our au pairs/nannies too!) always gets a Flu shot and we are rarely sick at all. We practice liberal handwashing, too! Our pediatrician just commented how thin my childrens' files are because they don't get sick. My 4 yr old daughter and I and our au pair just got the FluMist for the 1st time. We chose the mist because you get so many other shots at the 4 year old check-up and we wanted to cut down on just one. DD sucked it up her nose like a champ. We had her practice a few times to make sure she was capable of it. Afterward the nurse said she did it better than most older kids. It was so easy and painless, I would HIGHLY recommend it. Above someone commented that its not as effective/good. That is not what I have been told. Would anyone care to elaborate? I am taking my 6 year old in this week and if there is a good reason that he should get the shot instead, I would really appreciate the information.

Posted by: Palli | October 29, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to get FluMist for my 2 kids (they are within the approved age), but my ped doesn't carry it. Anyone know how to get it???

Posted by: Elizabeth | October 29, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

We all get the flu shot. It is recommended for my daughter still and my husband and I get it because he wouldn't want to miss work and I cannot imagine a greater hell than for me to have the flu for two weeks and have to care for two healthy kids with no help. No thanks. People forget that children, healthy children, actually can die from the flu. Most don't, but can you imagine how you'd feel if it was your kid and you didn't get the shot? We've become very accustomed to our children not dying of these things but much of that is due to vaccinations (flu, measles, rubella, varicella). We are lucky to live where we have access to such great preventive medicine.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 29, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

supposedly the flumist is a combination of two viruses instead of one, i do believe. they are live viruses, but milder. the shot has one dead virus.

Posted by: leah | October 29, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I got the flu shot (they ran out flu mist for me) and the mist for DD. I simply can not afford for either of us to miss two weeks of school or work.

I never was a great believer in cold medicine. My doctor said most were full of alcohol. I just kept her warm and dry
and off milk when she had a cold.

Posted by: shdd | October 29, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

No flu shots for our family because none of us are in the "danger categories" and we just don't think it's necessary. None of us have ever had the flu.

It's amazing to me how many people don't understand what the flu is. I can't count the number of times someone has said to me "I am so sick; I'm throwing up and have the runs. I don't know why - I got my flu shot!"

The OTC cold medication recall thing doesn't affect us, because we rarely use them on our kids. The parents who are freaking out about it are the ones who overmedicate from the time their children are born and are raising children who think they need medicine the second they get a little sniffle. They're also the ones who are obsessed with anti-bacterial soap and hand sanitizers so their children have absolutely no resistance to germs and end up sick when someone looks at them the wrong way.

Posted by: Boo! | October 29, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

My kids get flu shots every year. A little boy in my son's preschool died last year from flu. It was horrible and fast, and still haunts me to think about it.

The last year I didn't bother to get a flu shot, I had flu when I was 3 months pregnant and it was horrible. All I could take was Tylenol. Laid me out flat for 5 days straight, and I felt weak for 5 more days.

Every kid will balk at getting a shot, but the alternative is so much worse. Regarding the egg allergy, you can get preservative-free shots if you request them in advance.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | October 29, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

"No flu shots for our family because none of us are in the "danger categories" and we just don't think it's necessary."

So you're not in the "danger category"? That means that no member of your family ever has contact with another human being? Nobody goes outside, goes to school, goes to the shops, commutes to work? Or if they do, they wear a biohazard suit?

Posted by: mucus99 | October 29, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

For mucus99 - there are specific categories of people who are more affected by getting sick. In general - those with compromised immune systems. Quite a few of these show up as asthma, allergies, and that kind of thing. I believe that's what the original poster was discussing - not day to day living.

Posted by: Mom | October 29, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

"So you're not in the "danger category"? That means that no member of your family ever has contact with another human being? Nobody goes outside, goes to school, goes to the shops, commutes to work? Or if they do, they wear a biohazard suit?"

Give me a break.

From the CDC website:

People who should get vaccinated each year are:

People at high risk for complications from the flu, including:
Children aged 6 months until their 5th birthday,
Pregnant women,
People 50 years of age and older, and
People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions;
People who live in nursing homes and other long term care facilities.

People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu (see above)
Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
Healthcare workers.

Posted by: Boo! | October 29, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I don't feel strongly about the flu shot, but living in the UK, they don't even recommend it. When I asked our doctor, he said that it usually just provides a false sense of security as this year's flu shot will only protect you against last year's flu strain and that you are still susceptible to getting sick from this year's flu strain.

Considering every year that I've gotten the flu shot, I've also gotten the flu, I tend to believe the doctors over here.

Not that there is anything wrong with getting the shot, but it is amazing how many people think that getting the shot is like getting a vaccination...it isn't.

Posted by: londonmom | October 29, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

newsahm - who will take care of DD when she's healthy and you're flat on your back with the flu?

for god's sake - this isn't torture, it's a 10 second pinch and sting. it frustrates me to no end that intelligent people don't bother to understand the basic mechanisms of disease prevention. the reason many of the no-vaccine posters haven't gotten the flu is that so many of the those around them HAVE. we confer the protection of the "herd" on you. See for example: "Herd protection against influenza", Journal of Clinical Virology Volume 37, Issue 4, December 2006, Pages 237-243, W. Glezen. this is also why children whose parents refuse to allow the standard course of childhood vaccines hardly ever get things like measles and mumps. The virus can't get to the unvaccinated because they are ringed around by those who are vaccinated.

according to the CDC, >200K people are hospitalized and ~36K die from the flu each year. please see their website http://www.cdc.gov/flu/ for more information. If you're going to make a decision about your child's health, the least you can do is make an informed one.

For the record, DH and I get our shots every year. DSs have been getting theirs since they were 1.

Posted by: two terrific boys | October 29, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Not that there is anything wrong with getting the shot, but it is amazing how many people think that getting the shot is like getting a vaccination...it isn't.

Posted by: londonmom | October 29, 2007 10:58 AM

Acutally, it is a vaccination. I think what people misunderstand is the idea that vaccinations protect you 100% from the disease indicated. It does not guarantee you won't get it, but in general you will have a less intense case. The more people who are vaccinated, the fewer cases there will be. Even if you don't come in contact with the risk groups, you go out in public where people who are in the risk group or those who associate with and care for the elderly and sick go as well. So, even if you won't be killed by the flu. You can consider getting your shot a public service or act of goodwill!

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 29, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

"So, even if you won't be killed by the flu. You can consider getting your shot a public service or act of goodwill!"

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 29, 2007 11:16 AM

I'm willing to get the mist, but I am not willing to get the shot. If someone wants to tell me where to get the mist, I am happy to get it.

On the other hand, I've gotten the flu perhaps twice in my life. I am not getting stabbed in the arm every year so that I can get the flu once every several decades instead of once every few decades.

Posted by: Bob | October 29, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

"Stabbing" is a little over-dramatic to describe a little shot, don't you think?

Posted by: Wow | October 29, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Boo, you are just the kind of moron who gets sick - and more importantly, infects a bunch of other people - because you think you "don't need the shot".

Posted by: mucus99 | October 29, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

We all get the flu shot every year in our house. I can't believe adults are concerned about getting a shot. It is is minor pain compared to the regular bumps and scrapes of life. I did not start getting flu shots till I was in my mid 20s. I don't think we either had them when I was a kid or they were not common. I have never gotten the flu before or after the flu shot. But as moxiemom said, a small pinch is worth (an ounce of prevention) is worth a pound of (and now I forgot the rest of the saying) -not getting the flu or a harder case of the flu. My only problem is some years, there are shortages of the vaccine. We had to take our daughter to the county medical center and wait 4 hours to be seen because her pediatrician ran out in the first week of her shipment. If you want to know what poor people go through to get health care, just go to the county medical clinic. It was a zoo and not the fun kind!

Posted by: foamgnome | October 29, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

the needles they use now are so small you literally do not feel the shot at all. I had some soreness at the site the next day, that was it. My two kids didn't even shed a tear and felt the trade off for a lollipop and sticker was fair.

Posted by: moxiemom | October 29, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

My husband and I and our daughter get flu shots each year. My son has a primary immune system disorder and can't get shots as a result, but it also at very high risk if he happens to get the flu, so we do everything we can to make sure the people around him are healthy. He also gets gammaglobulin infusions, so he's getting some measure of protection through that.

I'd like to find out who headed that FDA panel, because I'd love to go to their home at 3 in the morning throughout the fall and winter and spring and play the accordion all night. And if I get arrested for being a public nuisance, I'll send my sister to stand there and play the banjo. And if SHE gets arrested, I have another sister who has a number of percussion instruments that can be put to good use. Because clearly this is a person who has no clue what it's like to just not sleep for months on end when your child is sick constantly. We've made liberal use of various cold medicines throughout the years (one of the little highlights of a primary immune disorder is that you can get the same cold over and over and over, and usually it blossoms into a secondary infection and pneumonia and even when it doesn't it can take five or six weeks to get over entirely, and generally by then the next illness has hit) and they mean the difference between a child who gets no sleep because laying down sets off the coughing and makes breathing even more difficult and a child who is at least able to get a few hours of sleep. Without cold medicines, our son is unable to even drink the fluids that the FDA panel recommends instead--when you're that congested, drinking hurts and makes you gag. If they take the medicines off the market, we'll just use the adult stuff at lower doses (although he's six now, so it shouldn't be an issue for us).

Posted by: Sarah | October 29, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Personally, I don't care if others get the flu shot or not. But, if you get sick, please stay home! If at all possible, stay home from work, the grocery store, etc. There are people out there who are in the high risk group who get far sicker than you will if they get it.

You don't know who could be sitting there next to you with a compromised immune system. It could be the 30 year old coworker, it could be the seemily healthy teenager who grabs the grocery cart next to you, it could be anyone.

Posted by: RT | October 29, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

This year I got the flu shot at work, just stood in line for 15 minutes, and a quick pinch. I have had the flu, and it was terrible (fortunately it was before I had kids). Way worse than a cold. My kids got their shots at the pediatrician's--they are 1.5 and 3.5 and my son used to get virally induced asthma so we are definite candidates. I have to say, the shot is a very easy one. Neither of the kids shed a tear--they were too focused on the basket of lollipops next to the syringes.

As far as cold medicines go, the research indicating that they are ineffectual has been around at least since my son was born in 2004. Our pediatrician has always recommended staying away from them, not out of any danger but because they won't make a difference. But I do find that pseudoephedrine (sudafed) relieves congestion and helps my kids to rest at night. I am still using it, only at bedtime and only if they are uncomfortably stuffy. Other than that I prefer to let their little goopy noses run and administer orange juice, rest, and snuggles.

Posted by: Amanda | October 29, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Boo, you are just the kind of moron who gets sick - and more importantly, infects a bunch of other people - because you think you "don't need the shot".

Posted by: mucus99 | October 29, 2007 11:37 AM

I'll take that to mean, "I'm sorry, but I don't know the answer to your question." I'm pretty sure that's what you meant to say.

Posted by: Bob | October 29, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

My 7 month old got the series of two flu shots. On the second, the nurse told me to hold him on my shoulder, and give him a big bear hug. She zapped him in the thigh, and he never even noticed. Never cried, nothing.

Posted by: BlueGirl1 | October 29, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

The one time I did not get a flu shot a few years ago, when there was a shortage, was the only year I got the flu. I am an otherwise health woman in my 40's and I could not move for 2 weeks, developed pneumonia (as did a friend who had to be hospitalized) and this was with taking Tamiflu right away when the symptoms appeared. (Tamiflu does not really help you get better faster all that much. The advantage of Tamiflu is it helps your family from catching it from YOU -- and it worked in that respect.) I felt weak for 6 weeks afterwards and had I been elderly or with another medical condition, I can easily see how it would have killed me. Many people confuse a bad cold with a fever with influenza; believe me, when you have had the real thing you know there is a difference. My kids had the FluMist once but it is so hard to find. (Go to the website for FluMist/Medimmune for locations if your doctor does not carry it.) Now everyone gets shots because they can deal with it and Flu Mist is too hard to get (pharmacists in VA can give it but not in MD -- at least that used to be the law -- don't know about DC). Even if we go to Minute Clinic. (It's too expensive for many doctor's offices to dispense flu shots -- they don't make enough on them in insurance or Medicare to even cover their costs.)

Posted by: Anonymous | October 29, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Bob, I think that was addressed to "boo!" at 10:45 AM, not you.

Posted by: baby-work | October 29, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like some of you have some crack-pot doctors or have been talking to real idiots in the medical community.

The virus (or viruses) used to make the annual flu shot are based on the last strain of the virus in the previous year. As you go through a flu season, usually you go through several strains.

So, is a flu shot, therefore, "useless" because it's based on last year's last flu strain? No, because the last strain of the previous year is usually the first strain of the current year. Moreover, as the strains are very similar to one another, getting a flu shot will provide some (not perfect) cross-protection.

So, to answer a couple basic questions: Yes, you can still get the flu even if you got a flu shot, BUT the flu vaccine will reduce your likelihood of getting the flu.

Also, to answer another person's question, the flu vaccine does not breed stronger flu viruses, in the way that bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics. That has to do with the way bacteria share DNA as well as the fact that, if antibiotics are not used properly to wipe out the bacteria, they can leave behind the hardiest bacteria.

Posted by: Ryan | October 29, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

For those of you asking where to find the FluMist, here's a FluMist finder link from the makers of it:

https://j.ovm1.net/med2/FlumistLocator/finder/index.aspx

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | October 29, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

If a Doctor does not have the FluMist stuff in stock, you can often get it from a pharmacy and have the doctor administer it. Can be pricy, however, if you do not have health insurance.

On that note, however, the local Walmart actually offers the FluMist. Reasonably cheap too.

Posted by: David S | October 29, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm sympathetic to all of you who don't want to deal with the needle, but I highly recommend you get educated about the mist. It is not the same as the shot and carries with it additional risks. The shot contains dead virus, while the mist contains substantially weakened (but alive) virus. I personally would rather subject myself to the shot and avoid the additional risks of the mist. Some of the more 'at-risk' folks (including pregnant women - like me) cannot take the mist.

In addition, the vaccine-in whatever form- is only against the most prevalent strain of virus expected that year. It does not give you immunity to all flu viruses (of which there are many). It is not a magic pill and was never intended to be. It cuts down on your chances for major illness and complications, but should not be seen as a 'solution' to the flu...as it is definitely not that.

Posted by: to-be-mom | October 29, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I always ask for the preservative-free (you don't want thimerosol) shot.

What is this DD, DH, DS everyone is referring to? Please write in English not some sort of text message jargon.

Posted by: No flu | October 29, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Ryan. I hope the posters here who would like to understand more of the science behind flu vaccination read your post; it was clear and to the point. I also hope that posters who think the flu is not a big deal will learn from the experience of the unfortunate posters who have fainted, felt "run over by a Mack truck," been sick for weeks, and lost relatives to the flu. May I add that pneumonia is a common flu complication; this doesn't happen after a cold.

Shot averse posters: try to overcome your phobia. The needle is really tiny, and the nurses who administer the shots are very experienced. It barely hurts at all, not like the shots of our childhood when the needles were much, much bigger.

Finally, a word about over the counter meds for kids. It's terrible that the parents of coughing, sleepless children are now left without treatment choices, but the truth is that the only value of those meds was sedation. Yes, they help some kids get to sleep, but this is because you are sedating them, not because they are actually addressing the symptoms. A desperate parent confronted by a miserable child may want to risk the effects of sedation on already comprised breathing, but it's really not that safe. Sudafed works, but it carries risks, too. The situation stinks, no doubt about it.

Posted by: kaleberg | October 29, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I make sure that I get a flu shot very year to give myself some protection and to help protect others (like my elderly mom) from catching it from me.

My daughter --a strong ethletic ckid who rarely got a cold- caught the flu at school a couple of weeks before Christmas. I postponed my shopping and just as she got well, I developed it. It laid me so low that it was all I could do to crawl to the bathroom. In between I slept, alternated the chills and fever and developed a wicked cough. DH had to do the Christmas shopping and decorating because I couldn't get out of bed for 5 days. I got a secondary sinus infection that took a while and 2 courses of antibiotics to clear. I was weak for a long time. The flu left me suscesptable to other stuff and by Veteran's day the next year (a few days after my flu shot), I contracted pneumonia which left me ill and weak for more than 2 months.

Those who can get a flu shot but don't because flu "does not affect them" need to understand that what they don't do can harm others. Your mild flu case that you pass along can kill someone else.

Posted by: Boomer Girl | October 29, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

the truth is that the only value of those meds was sedation. Yes, they help some kids get to sleep, but this is because you are sedating them, not because they are actually addressing the symptoms.

Posted by: kaleberg | October 29, 2007 12:52 PM

Who cares what the reason is? The kids are never going to get healthy again unless they get some sleep.

In the olden days, they sedated little kids with whiskey. At least with Pedia-care, you can measure the dose. ;)

Posted by: Bob | October 29, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

If a Doctor does not have the FluMist stuff in stock, you can often get it from a pharmacy and have the doctor administer it. Can be pricy, however, if you do not have health insurance.


Posted by: David S | October 29, 2007 12:36 PM

David: it would probably be the same price (pricy) whether one has insurance or not. In one case, it 'appears' free (but isn't) and in the other case, one needs to pay for the service one is receiving.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 29, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

From the CDC website: "Each vaccine contains three influenza viruses-one A (H3N2) virus, one A (H1N1) virus, and one B virus. The viruses in the vaccine change each year based on international surveillance and scientists' estimations about which types and strains of viruses will circulate in a given year."

Note: THREE viruses, not one.


Posted by: rlguenther | October 29, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm not anti-vaccine. My daughter has all of the recommended shots and will continue to get all the vaccinations she's supposed to have, including the flu shot. I just take issue with this idea that it's some kind of moral imperative to try to guard against every single chance of illness, injury or harm.

I've never had the flu. I've never even known anyone who's had the flu, and I'm not in the high-risk group. So I don't see a reason to get myself vaccinated every year in case I maybe, possibly get infected and then maybe, possibly pass it on to someone else who might maybe, possibly have a greater risk from the virus. It's not worth the hassle of finding a family practitioner, making an appointment, dragging DD into the office to wait among the actually sick people while I fill out miles of paperwork, then finally getting the shot.

Posted by: newsahm | October 29, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I've only had the flu twice in my 27 years and neither of those times were during "flu season." So I don't really have any motivation to get one and really am the type (through personality and cultivation) to make my immune system duke it out on its own.

However, if there had been a strep shot to take, we'd have gotten that every month :)

And I'll triple ditto the idea that when you ARE sick with something communicable, you SHOULD avoid other people- it's just rude not to.

Posted by: Liz D | October 29, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

newsahm: you can get the shots easily at places like cvs, publix, kroger (local grocery store) in most areas.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 29, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I, too, got the flu once -- I felt like I was dying! The flu is NOTHING like a cold - trust me!! Ever since, I make my annual pilgrimage to either my doctor's office, or a flu clinic the first week of October. I even went so far as to attend a "drive up" flu shot clinic on my motorcycle one year.

Parents and kids get shots in this family.

Those who say they don't need to get a flu shot are missing a very important point -- who is going to care for your kids if you come down with the flu and can't get out of bed?

Posted by: Dad of Two | October 29, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Who cares what the reason is? The kids are never going to get healthy again unless they get some sleep.

In the olden days, they sedated little kids with whiskey. At least with Pedia-care, you can measure the dose. ;)

Posted by: Bob | October 29, 2007 01:05 PM

Bob, the reason anesthesiologists stay by the a person having surgery is that the sedation amount for one person may be not enough or too toxic for another. What if your child is actually over-sedated ... they may die. If you want, be risky and go straight to the whiskey. Although I don't think that's a wise thing to do.

Posted by: Barbara | October 29, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Interesting, newsahm, I've never found it difficult to get a flu shot. I'm not saying that you should get one -- it's just that I've always found that getting flu shots was ridiculously easy. My work provides them free of charge to all employees and has special flu shot areas set up for a couple weeks where people walk in, fill out considerably less than miles of paperwork, get their shot, and walk away in less than 2 minutes.

I would recommend going to one of those places that you find at various stores or pharmacies where they set up a special flu shot clinic. No waiting, no hassle, no "miles of paperwork". But, like I said, you certainly don't need to get one if you don't. Nor have I ever met anyone who considered it a moral imperative to get one. Just a health recommendation.

Posted by: Ryan | October 29, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Ryan and Dad of Two,

Point taken. (still not getting a flu shot, but it is one less excuse).

Posted by: NewSAHM | October 29, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

"Boo, you are just the kind of moron who gets sick - and more importantly, infects a bunch of other people - because you think you "don't need the shot"."

Ummm yeah, mucous, I'm the moron who is 41 and who has never had the flu, so I go around infecting people with the flu all of the time.

Just because I don't feel a flu shot is necessary FOR ME doesn't mean that I have no regards for other people's health. Plus, if you have your flu shot why are you worried about getting infected by me?

Posted by: Boo | October 29, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Bob, the reason anesthesiologists stay by the a person having surgery is that the sedation amount for one person may be not enough or too toxic for another.

Posted by: Barbara | October 29, 2007 03:19 PM

Nobody is talking about giving a 2-year-old a home-therapy general anesthetic. Just a little bit of a "push" in the direction of sleep.

If you are giving a kid enough Pedia-care for it to be toxic, then you have not listened to your doctor.

Posted by: Bob | October 29, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

"Also, to answer another person's question, the flu vaccine does not breed stronger flu viruses, in the way that bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics. That has to do with the way bacteria share DNA as well as the fact that, if antibiotics are not used properly to wipe out the bacteria, they can leave behind the hardiest bacteria."

Spoken like someone who actually has taken a college-level micro course and can tell their conjugation from their transduction from their transformation!! (Well done lol!) :)

Posted by: To Ryan | October 29, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Well, I have asthma and have never had a flu shot. And I'm never sick -- I can't even tell you the last time I took a sick day from work (and no, I don't come to work sick either). I actually had perfect attendence at a job that honored people for it! I'm also not a habitual handwasher due to eczema. Guess I have good DNA/genes?

Posted by: WDC 21113 | October 29, 2007 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Posted by atlmom1234 @ October 29, 2007 01:28 PM:

"David: it would probably be the same price (pricy) whether one has insurance or not. In one case, it 'appears' free (but isn't) and in the other case, one needs to pay for the service one is receiving."

You are, of course, correct. The real value of the vaccine does not change, only it's percieved value. This is why most insurance is somewhat akin to a scam, albeit a very inefficent one for the insurance companies.

Allow me to rephrase then: If you have not already paid upfront for the vaccine, in the form health insurance, the cost may be prohibitive. The price your doctor gives you (if he has it available) or you can get at some places (like Walmart) may be signficantly better.

Posted by: David S | October 29, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

re: sedation value of decongestants. Sudafed definitely is not a sedative, at least not in my house! I believe that typically the combination cold meds have a sedating effect because they include an antihistamine (such as benadryl) which does conk the little ones out. Yet no one has said anything about taking Benadryl off the shelf that I'm aware of. In any case, I think that if a parent is conscientious about dosing their child properly (by weight of the child) and knowing exactly what is in the medicines that the child is receiving, the risk is minimal. I'm a little more conservative about cough medicines--I want the kids to be able to cough up mucous, etc.

Posted by: Amanda | October 30, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

"What is this DD, DH, DS everyone is referring to? Please write in English not some sort of text message jargon."

It's the same idiots who waste all day on UrbanBaby.com. They think it's cute to refer to DH as ``darling husband'' or worse depending on the context. DD is dear/darling daughter, etc.

Yes, it's highly highly annoying.

Posted by: Dad with Kids from A-Z | October 30, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

"Regarding the egg allergy, you can get preservative-free shots if you request them in advance."

The egg issue has nothing to do with preservatives- the virus in the shots is grown using chicken eggs, and the virus contains egg proteins because of that. If you have an egg allergy, you just can't get this shot.

Posted by: va | October 30, 2007 6:32 PM | Report abuse

"It's the same idiots who waste all day on UrbanBaby.com. They think it's cute to refer to DH as ``darling husband'' or worse depending on the context. DD is dear/darling daughter, etc. "

I think you may be dating yourself- most people have never heard of urbanbaby these days. These abbreviations are now standard on nearly all message boards and blogs.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2007 6:35 PM | Report abuse

" Sudafed definitely is not a sedative, at least not in my house! I believe that typically the combination cold meds have a sedating effect because they include an antihistamine (such as benadryl) which does conk the little ones out. "

When my 2.5 year old has a nasty cold, I give her a decongestant-antihistamine at bedtime. I have given this same medicine to her during the day on rare occasions and it has no sedative effect on her at all- all it does is dry out her nose so she can breathe. It makes a huge difference in her quality of life during a bad cold, since she can get some rest at night and isn't exhausted all the time on top of everything else.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2007 6:39 PM | Report abuse

fr newsahm:

>I've never had the flu. I've never even known anyone who's had the flu, and I'm not in the high-risk group. So I don't see a reason to get myself vaccinated every year in case I maybe, possibly get infected and then maybe, possibly pass it on to someone else who might maybe, possibly have a greater risk from the virus. It's not worth the hassle of finding a family practitioner, making an appointment, dragging DD into the office to wait among the actually sick people while I fill out miles of paperwork, then finally getting the shot.

Um, one would HOPE that you already HAVE a family practioner and that you had already filled out "miles of paperwork". You can also get flu shots at local grocery stores or pharmacies. Trust me, the flu is MUCH worse than getting a flu shot. You probably do indeed know someone who's had the flu, but they choose to not let you know. Simple as that.

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