Yesterday, I wrote about the CDC reports regarding pediatric deaths from the flu. Those were just numbers, but there are real kids and real parents of those kids who constitute those numbers.
The Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN) reported about the death of an elementary school child from the flu. The child was healthy, so it wasn’t that the flu increased some risk factor because of an underlying disease.
According to Maine’s CDC Director, Dr. Sheila Pinette, pediatric flu deaths are not common in the state. She stated that flu can be fatal in people who are elderly or have a compromised health status, but this elementary school child was believed to be healthy. Dr. Pinette wants everyone to get vaccinated against the flu, unless the vaccine is medically contraindicated (which is very very rare). According to the MPBN article, “that’s an expansion from previous CDC recommendations that focused on the young, the elderly, and health care workers.”
“The most important thing is that we grieve for the family, and we want to make sure that families recognize that flu is preventable and we can’t prevent all complications that go with it,” Pinette says. “And sometimes that’s what happens, particularly in this case.”
Maine allows exemptions to vaccinations for “philosophical reasons”, which means you can invent any excuse you want to avoid vaccinating your children. And physicians find it difficult to advise parents against making a bad choice regarding vaccination.
“The problem is, with a scientific background, I cannot tell a mother, ‘This vaccine will not harm your child,'” says pediatrician Larry Losey. “We need to understand that there is a tiny risk from that. There is a risk of driving to the doctor’s office, and that risk is significant. People get in car accidents all the time. And we tend to ignore that, and we worry about the one-in-a-million chance of some bizarre, unusual reaction occurring.”
There are no valid excuses for avoiding a flu vaccination. Just in case you believe the myths about the flu vaccine, they’re not true. The vaccine does not itself cause the flu. The vaccine is safe for pregnant women. And most of the other myths have been solidly debunked.
Get a flu vaccination for your kids. Because the Flu Vaccine Save Lives. If only the parents of this Maine child would have listened to the advice of nearly everyone who vaccinates, I wouldn’t be writing this article.