I was watching the news this past week while my son was directing traffic for his trucks, elephants, and dinosaurs respectively. The newscaster repeatedly uttered the words “Swine Flu” to the extent that my son halted his traffic duties to ask me “Why does the man keep saying swine flu Daddy?..what’s swine flu?” Internally I winced because I honestly did not have an easy way to explain this topic. Nonetheless, in my role as Daddy aka answer man, I had to forge ahead and provide my son with some details. I told him it was a type of very bad cold spread from person to person and pig to pig. He looked at me as though I was the biggest dolt in the world. Then he proceeded to correct me “Daddy, the man said swine flu, not pig flu, silly daddy.” “Well” I said, “pigs are also called swine.” “Oh” he responded….processing this new information for a moment..”so swine flu is piggy flu?” “Yes” I said, “swine flu is piggy flu.” Smiling, he then ran back off to resume what he was doing while shouting “piggy flu! piggy flu!” I, on the other hand, was left pondering the more serious question of whether or not to get the swine flu vaccination.
As a parent, the urgency of the decision to have a swine flu shot administered to one’s family is particularly complex. Especially now that flu season has arrived. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), this particular influenza virus is a nasty one because “It has two genes from flu viruses that normally circulate in pigs in Europe and Asia and bird (avian) genes and human genes.” Wonderful. It certainly doesn’t help having the media fan the flames with cries of pandemic. From what I’ve read and heard, the actual cases in the U.S. have been rather mild. Still, the emphasis to rush out a swine flu vaccine is unsettling. In essence, the pubic at large will serve as test candidates for this new vaccine. In addition, the potential for side effects related to receiving this vaccine have not been determined since it is brand new. Perfect. So in theory, an individual could receive this flu shot and suffer no harmful effects whatsoever or possibly indulge in one’s new found joy of wallowing in the mud.
My own pediatrician has taken a wait and see approach to the vaccine with the preliminary advice that if the vaccine is determined to be completely safe to get a shot rather than the live inhaled version. So we wait. And we worry.
Below are some links to get you started on your own research: