On the fence about swine flu vaccine

We got a letter from school in the dreaded ‘Wednesday Packet,’ which is filled with papers to throw away every week.

The letter was from our school district and the Cook County Board of Health to notify us that swine flu vaccinations were going to be administered at our elementary school and we needed to sign the consent form. A couple of sheets with very basic flu information were included as well as the 800 number at CCBH to contact for questions, but that was about it.

My son has had all of his regular vaccinations, but has never gotten a flu shot. We never seem to get sick any more often than anyone else-including friends and neighbors who do get flu shots. But swine flu is supposed to be something different all together. I am not opposed to vaccines at all-just feeling a little railroaded by the procedure.

The information sent by the county includes the notice that both live and inactive vaccine will be administered (basically a shot or a snort up the nose) but I am not permitted to choose which one my child will have.

It then gives the less-than-reassuring information that the ‘inactive’vaccine may or may not be preserved with thermasol, which some studies have linked to autism. It states that the CCBH does not believe there is a connection. Since they don’t seem to know which boxes of vaccine even have the thermasol in them, it makes me wonder if they are even able to track it.

My issue is not so much that my son will almost have to receive the swine flu vaccination at this point. Since pretty much every other kid at school that day will be getting it, it seems that his chances of getting sick could be increased if he is one of the few who does not.

It isn’t even the issue of thermasol and how the vaccine has been cooked up, preserved, etc. There has been a great deal of contradictory evidence on both sides of that argument over the past few years and I have to say that I am still personally on the fence about thermasol being linked to autism. I know I am inviting a lot of angry comments and links to various studies and Web sites, but it’s the truth for me.

My main concern is that the vaccine to counteract swine flu has undergone little or no testing in children. A neighbor of ours who is a health care worker says that the group of kids getting it now are basically going to be the large ‘guinea pig’ group. I know world health organizations want to get this vaccine to people as fast as possible, but with so many other drugs handed out to children after only being tested on adults, I feel the need for caution.

I may call the number, read more articles and visit more information Web sites, but in the end, I’ll most likely sign the consent form. After also reading the long list of possible side effects that came along with it, I am hoping I don’t get a call from the school to come and pick him up.

I know we don’t want a worse epidemic on our hands. I know that some suburban schools have been literally shut down by swine flu. But so far we’ve managed to dodge it on our own. I almost wish my son had gotten it and gotten immune on his own so I didn’t have to make a decision about the vaccine either way.

Chicago Parent Editorial Team
Chicago Parent Editorial Team
Since 1984, the Chicago Parent editorial team is trained to be the go-to source for Chicagoland families, offering a rich blend of expert advice, compelling stories, and the top local activities for kids. Renowned for their award-winning content, the team of editors and writers are dedicated to enriching family life by connecting parents with the finest resources and experiences our community has to offer.
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