If a stomach virus is a bug, then influenza (aka the flu) is a beast—one that can cause high fever, a hacking cough, and disabling malaise that can be life-threatening to little ones. About 20,000 kids under age 5 are hospitalized yearly with flu complications. That figure would be bigger if it weren’t for the flu shot.
Don’t get me wrong: I know that the flu shot does not guarantee immunity against the flu. Scientists at the World Health Organization deliver recommendations on the composition of the vaccine using a series of educated guesses, making the flu vaccine a shot that merely “might” protect your kids. But as I see it, a “might” is the reason we take most preventive measures, from washing our hands to eating our vegetables. And even if the vaccine is roughly 50 percent effective, I would rather be 50 percent protected than 100 percent at risk.
Plus, vaccinating against the flu doesn’t just help your child; it can create “herd immunity,” a term for what happens when roughly 80 percent of a community gets vaccinated and, as a result, erases nearly all opportunity for an outbreak to occur.
I’m not here to tell you what decisions to make. But as a parent and as a member of the herd, I urge you to consider the flu shot and help us kill this beast once and for all.