There is a lot of talk about the H1N1 flu and the vaccines, and rightly so. 46 states are reporting widespread flu activity, and some New Hampshire schools are reporting absence rates of up to 30% . New Hampshire has activated the 2-1-1 state info line to answer questions about the flu and the vaccine. New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services has also published a FAQ about the seasonal flu and H1N1 flu.
Many parents have concerns about the H1N1 vaccine and its safety and efficacy. If you and your co-parent have joint decision making responsibilities, this is an issue that you need to discuss together. Joint decision-making responsibility is defined as equal participation in the major decisions of the children’s life regarding health, safety and welfare, including but not limited to matters pertaining to medical and psychological care, discipline, education, daycare and extracurricular activities.
Whether to vaccinate your children is a major decision, and therefore should be agreed upon by both parents. Speak together with your pediatrician, and consider his or her opinion about the matter. Listen to what your co-parent has to say, and talk over the pros and cons of vaccinating your children. Make every attempt to come to a decision together, taking into account the best interests of your children.
In the meantime while either discussing the issue with your co-parent or waiting for the vaccine to become available, take the everyday steps recommended by doctors and health care officials to keep your child flu-free:
• Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds (long enough to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice) especially after coughing or sneezing. Be sure to set a good example by doing this yourself.
• Cough and sneeze into a sleeve or tissue. (If a tissue is used, throw the tissue away immediately). Be sure to set a good example by doing this yourself.
• Stay at least six feet away from people who are sick.
• Stay home from school if sick, and stay away from sick people until they are better.
• Keep surfaces like bedside tables, bathroom surfaces, kitchen counters and toys for children clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.