Think vaccines are only an issue for mothers of young kids to debate? Doctors who had to watch a seemingly healthy teenage boy die of the flu in Wisconsin this week would disagree. Max Schwolert was a 17-year-old athlete in great shape, but the flu ravaged his body, killing him in mere days.
The tragedy has renewed the call for parents of teenagers to pay attention to the vaccines their kids need. After all, bring up the word "vaccine" among a group of mothers of young children, and you'll darn near start a war. Bring immunizations up among parents of teens, on the other hand, and you might get a half-hearted argument at best.
I get it: the baby and toddler years are so jam-packed with shots that it's hard to keep them all straight. And there are all these controversies about mercury this and autism that. At that point you kind of can't help but talk about it every time you're in the same room as another mother.
But I've noticed this dichotomy between the two groups of parents, and although I don't have a teenager (yet), I am hellbound not to get complacent. Just because there are fewer shots to deal with when our kids get bigger doesn't mean we can suddenly just stop caring.
We're still talking about doing the best for our kids. We're still taking life and death. And if a dead teenager doesn't drive that one home, I'm not sure what does.
Doctors say they don't know if Schwolert's life would have been saved by the flu shot. But that hasn't stopped them from using his death as a warning for parents. They say that kids need to get them because even one life saved is worth it.
The CDC, by the way, recommends everyone 6 months and up should get a flu shot. EVERYONE.
So, are you making your kid's appointment yet?
Image via DFID - UK Department for International Development/Flickr