It's flu season again (well, I guess it's been flu season for a bit now, but it just seems like everyone's recently started to get sick) Knock on wood, I'm feeling pretty good - and I'm planning on keeping that way at least for another month so I can FINISH!
Anyway, I know a lot of people are really on the fence about vaccinations, etc. Almost every doctor will tell you that vaccinating your kids is perfectly safe (actually safer than NOT) and (I'm pretty sure - correct me if I'm wrong) kids legally have to be vaccinated before they can attend school in the US (excepting religious or "spiritual" beliefs). I know that some celebrities (I'm looking at you, Jenny McCarthy) are on this no-vaccinations kick, saying that vaccinations cause autism, etc. I get so mad every time I hear about this, because it seems like just because you (as a parent) would rather listen to a celebrity than a doctor, your kid could get REALLY sick and make other kids REALLY sick (babies too small to be vaccinated, etc...)
You might be wondering what all this has to do with me... I read this article on Slate Magazine today, and I never really thought about how unvaccinated kids could affect me directly. However, now that I'm a patient at a Children's Hospital, I'm wondering how many unvaccinated kids I come in contact with that could be spreading things to allllll the many immunocompromised patients at CHMC. It makes me so mad...
Another thing that makes me SO mad is coughing kids in hospitals NOT wearing masks. The new procedure at Outpatient where I get my bloodwork (and I'm assuming at Children's Main as well) is that if you come in even looking vaguely sick, you have to wear a mask. This is because so many kids come in with low immune systems that hospital staff doesn't want flu (or anything else) spreading and making the really sick kids even sicker. However, some parents don't seem to follow these rules... When I was coming home from my treatment Monday, I was stuck behind a kid and his mom - the mom was holding a mask and the kid was coughing all over his hands and running them up and down the walls... Another woman in front of us commented (pretty loudly) "This is a Hospital. That kid should be wearing a mask..." The mom didn't even flinch or acknowledge the comment. One of my nurses at Outpatient put it best: she told me that she has parents come in all the time who don't want to force their kid to wear a mask (because, let's face it, the masks suck) so she tells them "Your kid might get the flu and have a tummy ache and miss a couple days of school, but someone else's kid might be on chemo, and that kid on chemo can get the flu and die. Put the mask on your kid, because we don't want any dead ones." It sounds a little harsh, but sometimes that's the only way to get through to people. A lot of times parents just don't realize that not every kid they come in contact with is as healthy as their own.
For everyone's sake this flu season, GET THE H1N1 vaccine! Get the Seasonal vaccine! Help us sick kids have a better chance of NOT getting the flu!!!!
Lots of Love,