It’s flu vaccine season here, and for the first time I’m having to seriously weigh the option of getting one for my son.
When we lived in Virginia before, flu shots were generally available only for the elderly, the very young, and the more susceptible. Supplies were limited, flu shot clinics were often scheduled at strange or inconvenient times, and there were frequent reports of long lines and supplies running out. I was grateful we didn’t fall into any of the targeted groups.
Things were different in Michigan. There, everyone got a flu shot, and clinics were easily accessible and well-stocked. I was so accustomed to the way it was in Virginia, however, that it never even occurred to me to look into getting flu shots in Michigan, and so we never did, not once in the 3 years we lived there. Not once in those 3 years did we ever get the flu, either.
This isn’t to say we never got sick in Michigan. That first winter I had a knock-down, drag-out fight with bronchitis with a cough that lingered well into summer. Last Christmas, when my mother and sister were visiting, they and my son picked up a stomach bug that reduced all activity in our house to a standstill for 3 days (standstill except for the frequent frantic dashes to the nearest empty bathroom, that is). We also get colds a few times a year, though no more so in Michigan than we did in Virginia – remarkable, given how drafty our house in Michigan was (and my bedroom got no heat at all). For the most part, though, we don’t get really sick – maybe once every 3-4 years one of us will come down with something nasty, but it’s never been an annual occurrence.
The other night my son’s school sent home a letter with information about a flu vaccine clinic they’ll be having later this month (they also hope to have an H1N1 vaccine clinic in late October). They’ll be using the FluMist nasal spray, but since my son has mild asthma, he’ll probably have to get a shot instead if we sign up.
The consensus among my LiveJournal coterie is to get the vaccine, with the predominant justification being, “That way, if you get the flu, it won’t be as bad.” Sound reasoning, and if we were predisposed to get the flu regularly, I’d take their advice. We’re not, though, and therein lies the Vicks Vaporub. On the other hand, the fact that I’ve talked so much about how we don’t get the flu has probably guaranteed we will get it this year, and if we don’t get the vaccine I suspect there’ll be great slabs of schadenfreude pie being served up this winter.
(I should probably clarify: it’s a virtual guarantee that I won’t get the vaccine, as I’m willing to accept whatever consequences come my way as a result of my decision. The real question is whether I should let my son get it. Having been advised of the various factors to consider, including the fact that people can and do die of the flu every year, he’s said he’d rather not be vaccinated. However, the decision is still mine and I have until Thursday night to make up my mind.)
Provided the school can arrange an H1N1 vaccine clinic, we will probably sign up. While I’m inclined to think there’s a bit of unnecessary panic going on, there are also a lot of unknowns and wild rumors floating around, and in this case I’m not ashamed to hedge my bets.