Friday, October 25, 2013

Flu vaccine, friend or foe

As a parent of a chronically ill and medically fragile child, I am always making sure that Mighty Z’s health is top priority. When it comes to vaccines, I am almost always pro -vaccine simply because with Mighty Z’s syndrome, CCHS (Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome), anything can pop up randomly resulting in an unplanned ICU stay or an emergency surgery.  Also, I know I need to do my best to prevent the other issues that may occur if I don’t vaccinate, so I always make sure we are always up to date with vaccines.


Last year according to the Center for Disease Control, only 50% of children who are medically fragile had the flu vaccine, and although that might be shocking to some, it was not at all shocking to me. One has to remember that even though in a controlled environment the flu vaccine has been proven safe and effective, life is not a controlled environment. Even as a mom who is pro-vaccination, I have chosen for Mighty Z not to have the flu vaccine, and many other moms who also have children who are medically fragile have chosen the same. It’s not because we feel there is something wrong with the vaccine; it is mostly because through trial and error we have found that a flu vaccine for our kids has sent us to the PICU more than once.  


Whether or not to give your chronically ill, medically fragile child the flu vaccine is just as hot a topic as the 2012 election was. When you deal with a child that has a rare disease or really any disease, being pro vaccine for all vaccines can be tricky. As a mom with a child like Mighty Z, it is up to me to make sure that it is safe for my child to have all vaccines, through research and trial and error. What might be good for some can be deadly for others, and sometimes you have to weigh the “is the risk of having a vaccination worth a trip to the ER” question. You have to know your own child and with the help of your doctor make the right choice when it comes to giving or not giving the flu vaccine.

If you choose not to give your medically fragile child the flu vaccine, it is imperative that you help protect your child from being exposed to the flu as much as possible, and also look for signs that your medically fragile child might have the flu.

Some great ways to limit exposure according to Flu.Gov are to wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way. Try to avoid close contact with sick people. Practice good health habits. Get plenty of sleep and exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy food. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

The signs that your child might have the flu are:

A 100oF or higher fever or feeling feverish (not everyone with the flu has a fever)

A cough and/or sore throat

A runny or stuffy nose

Headaches and/or body aches, chills, Fatigue

Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children)

So weather or not you vaccinate for the Flu make sure you take preventions against it and watch for signs for it.

edited by Emily Joy Minich
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  1. Hi Shelley! My name is Heather and I was hoping you could answer my question about your blog! My email is Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com :-)

  2. I think it's best to really educate yourself and then make a decision. I'm pro-vaccine myself. Hope Zoe stays healthy this winter!

  3. I'm pro-vaccine myself, but there are cases when getting a child vaccinated might not be the best option. Of course, the best way to deal with this is to consult your pediatrician and discuss the pros and cons of a vaccination.

    Sonja Howard @ (Brian A Jacobs, M.D.)

  4. True. Whether or not you take the flu vaccine, it is important to make the usual preventive measures. But, of course, it would always be better if you have yourself protected with a shot.

    Clinton Scott @

  5. Hello,
    I am the mother of a child (1 year old) that we suspect has CCHS. She stpped breathing and turned blue when she was 2 days old, and then spent 38 days in the hospital. The official diagnosis has not been made, but her sleep is always monitored and she has apnea episodes most nights (when she is sleeping well). When she got the Tetanos-Polio-Diphteria-Pertussis-HI vaccine, she had some serious apnea episodes, the longest one was 1 minute and a half. The scarry thing is that the alarm was going for over a minute when I finally woke up.
    Her doctor wants to give her the pneumoccocol vaccine, but I am afraid it will affect her nervous system. On the other hand, I know she is more fragile to get respiratory illnesses. I'm also concerned that she would get an infection without a fever to show it (her temperature is really weird, sometimes it is very low, sometimes her head his bruning but her body is not feverish...). So I really don't know what to do.
    What is your experience with vaccines and CCHS ? Do you know if there has been any study done on the effects of vaccination on the nervous system of CCHS babies ?
    Thank you if you have a chance to answer me (could be through email).