Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Great Flu Shot Debate

I used to debate in my head, should I get the flu shot or not? I spent most of my life, until pregnancy really, not getting one.

Then, I got pregnant and was "required" to have a flu shot done, then we had Will and we were "required" to get one for him and us too. Then, we found out we have an immune compromised child and we really are required to protect him, us and those around him from getting sick.

If Will gets the flu, not only will he end up in the hospital, but it could forever change the direction of his health. One viral infection could send us spiraling downward into a place where we will never get back to baseline.

This right here is my biggest fear. I know it's going to happen, but I'm praying, begging God, for one more holiday season with our Wiggles as we know him today - happy, vibrant and full of life. Last holiday season Neil and I spent most of it in a fog.

Anyways, if you read this blog and you are around Will as a caregiver, friend or playmate, I'm asking you to consider getting a flu shot this season. I know for many of you who are skeptical it will be a challenge. I'm not asking you to change your beliefs, thought processes or outlook on the flu shot - I'm simply asking you to consider it if you are around Will to help me protect his life.

To take it one step further, I also want to specify which kind. :-) I'm not pushy am I? This is mostly for the kiddos. I have learned/ researched some specifics on this...

FluMIST - this is a live strain of the flu that sprayed into your child.
FluSHOT - this is a dead strain of the flu injected into your child.

Neither sound like fun, neither sound safe nor "normal" to put something that could potentially harm your child directly into their body 

All that aside, there has been an article published by the FDA that basically says for immune compromised children, the fluSHOT is a better option. Will's immunologist also agrees with the fluSHOT as the best option for Will. http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM123743.pdf
See page 7 for an exact mention of Leigh's disease.

I know every child is different. I know vaccination injury is real. I know my child is at risk for a lot of really crappy health issues. I know you want to protect your child too.

So think of it this way... you just had your child's fluMIST done, you take them to school, Will and the child play, laugh and share toys, meanwhile your child can fight this live strain, but mine can't. I know it's our choice to send Will to school, to put him into the world and expect others to think of his situation. But, as Will's advocate and mom, I am responsible to at least ask and inform those around us.

So, I'm asking you as an adult to stop in at CVS and get a poke in the arm for $15. I'm asking you as a parent to get your child the fluSHOT this season. I'm also asking that you are mindful of germs, snot and just general yuckiness when you and your child are around Will. What others can fight off, he can't.

So, I've said my very whiny, very self-centered peace about flu shots and why they are important for us. I have a bottle of "goop" as we call it by the front door. If you come over, feel free to grab a squirt. Don't be offended if we don't show up at a party because we've heard some kiddo is sick or if I obsessively squirt goop all over you and your family. It's because I love my little guy and just want him around for as long as I can.

For us, the pros outweigh the cons. Thank you for reading this and considering what's best for your family too.


  1. I agree with most of what you are saying (and have a similar fear of the flu)...but I also know that while most people can safely receive vaccines without any problems, there are some that have severe reactions to them (many of which don't know this until it's too late)!!! I encourage all adults working with Reagan to be vaccinated (NOT with the live attenuated version)...but I myself am not vaccinating my child (Reagan OR her brother). I can't help but think that one of the vaccines Reagan received between birth and 4 months old contributed to her severe seizure disorder (which could have been aggravated by the vaccine because of her mitochondrial disease, which we didn't know she had at the time). Now keep in mind...we are not the general public...we are a small subset of the public with a child who is known to have mitochondrial disease. In general, for the greater good, people should vaccinate. But what happens when you or your child are the one in a million (or 1 in 100,000) that have a negative reaction to vaccines?!?! Your perspective changes a little! (I have a Ph.D.in Immunology...so I certainly know the importance of vaccines!)

  2. Lori,
    I am making wishes that Will gets through this cold and flu season with flying colors. I think the best thing parents can do is not send their kids to school sick. OK, colds are one thing (because they last forever and are just a part of life it seems), but fever, diarrhea, etc. is something different. Missing work is just something us parents need to figure out. It is wrong to knowingly send a child to school sick and I hope no one is doing that, esp. with Will at our school. I know at the school where I work, parents will knowingly dose their child with tylenol to mask the fever and drop them off. WRONG. They are still contagious regardless of whether or not we can see that fever brewing. I also think its good for people to tell you when their little ones are sick with fever so that extra vigilance can be taken. Even when they are kept home once the fever is known, Will could have been exposed and it is good for you to have a heads up to watch extra close. I have opinions about vaccines (I know you know. lol), but would encourage anyone who does get the flushot to ask for a thimerosal free version. It is one of the few shots that still has thimerosal and thimerosal free versions, rather than all of them being thimerosal free by default. I agree with you about the FluMist. I think that is unbelievably irresponsible of the medical community to be putting live virus strains into the public without their consent (which is what these things do). If you get a flumist, PLEASE don't bring your child back to the school. You are making the choice to expose not only your child, but others as well without their consent. I hear you on the hand sanitizer. I BATHE it in at school. Biggest hugs to you as always. I know you don't need my opinion, but I think you are doing a great job of balancing vigilance with "normalcy" by having Will in school and reminding us what we can do to help protect him. We are all lucky to have him at the school and in our lives;)

    1. Beth, Thank you so much for your comment. It really means a lot to us to have such support. I know we take a risk every day with Will in public, but as you can see, there is no "keeping Will in a bubble" - he wouldn't stand for it and we'd all be pretty miserable. One day that might all change, but he deserves a chance at some fun in life :-) Off to "goop" my hands...

  3. I just now, after one entire year of working with Will at 3 R's am reading your blog about your amazing journey with Will and his disease. What a shame. Wish i knew about your blog sooner. Looking through all of your older posts, i started to cry, funny thing is i wasn't crying because of sadness or pity in my heart, i realized i was crying with a smile on my face. The fun memories i have with Will soon outweighed the harsh reality of his disease, thank you for that Lori. The memory of my first day at 3 R's when he so aggressively and randomly approached me yanking at my hair and said "Your hair shiny like my mommys!" (Hahaha such a warm welcoming i'd say) quickly warmed my heart. Thank you for bringing such an incredible person into this world, who has truly made a difference in many peoples lives. Lori, you cant even begin to imagine the role that a little human as tough as Will has played in my (along with many other 3'Rs staff) life. Arriving daily to that school seeing that beautiful boy, so charming and loving is BEYOND AMAZING! A little super hero is what he is. He is a fighter. No matter how hard the fall, he can and will always rise - literally. Will has such an amazing heart, you have really done a wonderful job! To face something this difficult takes great courage and strength - great courage and strength that you carry so naturally. The powerful impact your extraordinary child has had on my life is simply in-explainable. May God always be with you and your entire family, and may he always protect your little man in everything he does. God bless. - With all the love in the world, Ms. Mylly <3