Is Your Babysitter Getting the Flu Shot?

flu vaccineThat sneaky flu season has crept up on us this year. And it seems like people are listening, at least in my part of the world: the line is out the door at my local CVS most weekends and doctors’ offices are full.

The rules are the same as always: elderly, those with compromised immune systems, kids over 6 months of age, and caregivers. That includes childcare providers, even nannies and au pairs -- and anyone else who might care for your children, including their grandparents.

There are so many pros and cons to the issue of vaccines in general, is it okay to ask others to get it for the safety of your children?


While most people do just fine with the vaccine, some just don’t -- they are allergic to ingredients and break out in hives, and some develop Guillian-Barré syndrome (GBS). And although doctors swear up and down that you cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine, there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence that you can (can you guess the only time I’ve ever had the flu?). And, some doses of this year’s vaccine still contain thimerosal, the controversial preservative that contains mercury.

There’s one more thing to consider. Each year the CDC develops an entirely new vaccine designed to fight the three types of virus they believe will cause the most trouble. One of the three this year is the H1N1 vaccine -- swine flu. The same vaccine that caused so much concern in 2009. Is it me, or is that a little sneaky? I know a lot of women who brought their children in for “regular” flu shots but stayed far away from the H1N1 vaccine ...

The flip side is that most people are fine when they get the vaccine, and are quite happy with the results. Those who are most vulnerable to the flu stand to benefit the most from the vaccine’s protection, especially when those around them are also protected. So in that respect, it makes perfect sense for you to be vaccinated as well as your child care providers. Maximum protection, right?

Right. Assuming the vaccine keeps your nanny from getting the flu, there’s no guarantee. There’s also no guarantee that she will agree to the shot, even if you ask. And while you can fire her for not having one, you can’t make her get it. Same for everyone else who watches your kids (and you definitely can’t fire your in-laws, no matter how much you want to). 

Will you require your babysitters to get the flu shot?


Image via Daniel Paquet/Flickr

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