“I love getting shots!”
…said no one ever.
Nothing worse than a tiny piece of metal piercing my skin and that achey, muscly, burning afterwards. The anticipation is enough to make me queasy. And if that isn’t bad enough, as a parent, I also have to watch my little guy get pricked (No!) Honestly, there is almost NOTHING worse than watching a kid get a shot, right? Especially a sleeping kid. When my son got his first set of shots, I sat in the corner and cried. My husband and I took turns holding him for the rest of the day, reassuring him that the world is in fact a good place.
BUT those are my emotions and — emotions aside — I know that a little pain upfront is worth protecting myself and my family from catching something much worse later.
Because you know what is worse than the flu shot?
The actual flu.
Tangent: I remember one year when my mom got the flu. She did not leave her bed for a week. A whole week. And like any good child, I took to binge-watching Nickelodeon with my brother while my sister took over the household responsibilities.
But I’m not writing this post to share my naughty childhood antics or even to get you on-board the pro-vax train, but rather to put a little information out there about why we’re a flu shot family. Plus, It’s that time of year, so maybe you’re already thinking about it.
Protecting my child and myself are obvious. Being a parent is heavy stuff and no one wants to see their kid sick or in trouble. Case and point: the “mama bear” instinct. I never truly understood its strength until my little boy was placed gingerly on my chest and our souls collided for eternity. I decided then that, if necessary, I would throw myself in front of a bus to save him. I also distinctly remember the first few nights of his life my husband and I took turns staying awake to watch him sleep. It’s real. Parents will go to lengths to protect their children. In my mind, this made something as simple as the flu shot a no-brainer.
But what about protecting others too?
Enter the herd. Have you heard about the herd or herd immunity?
Think of it this way: If 100 people were on a sinking boat and only 90 people had life jackets, the 10 people without life jackets might just survive if those with jackets all held them afloat.
It’s the same thing with the flu shot. Some people cannot get the shot (i.e. babies under 6 months and those with compromised immune systems.) Those people that cannot get the shot rely on the health of their immediate community — family, classmates, co-workers — to be protected against an outbreak. If enough people in a group are vaccinated, the likelihood of an outbreak (of any disease, not just the flu) is greatly decreased. And those that are most vulnerable are also protected.
I joined the public health community for this very reason: I believe that together we share the responsibility of making our communities healthy so that ALL people can thrive. Including the most vulnerable people. People that are too young to be vaccinated. People that are too sick to be vaccinated. For most people, getting the flu is not a life or death situation. But for some, it is. And by vaccinating our family, we are also helping protect those people.
Vaccinations can be a controversial topic. Please know that I am not here to judge or argue, but rather to share. Sometimes the big picture really is bigger after all. After I learned about herd immunity, it really gave more value to getting the flu shot. It is a community service. We’re all in this world together after all!
Around Milwaukee there are a plethora of places to get the shot, including the local pharmacy (Walgreens, CVS, etc.), or your primary care provider. Occasionally the shot is offered for free around the city – please post below if you know about any opportunities to receive a flu shot for free!
Click here for more information about the flu shot.
[The opinions of this post are strictly of the author and do not reflect the opinions of Mke Mom Blog founders or contributors. Author was not compensated for this post.]