Two of my kids were sick this week. During a trip to the doctor, they got their annual flu shot. It’s apparently now recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for all kids 6 months to 18 years old. Mine opted for the Flumist again this year. That was all they could get a couple years ago during the big flu scare when there was a shortage of vaccine and now they prefer not having a shot.
Remember the scare? People lining up for hours at pharmacies, physician offices and health departments, hoping to get their shot before supplies ran out? Remember individuals, groups and local governments paying obscene sums of money to order vaccine from Europe? There was a huge public uproar over this medical crisis with little supply available to thwart a potential epidemic (one that never happened). Here are some statistics from 2005 on the number of fatalities due to both Influenza and Pneumonia, according to the Centers for Disease Control. From what I gather, fatal complications from the flu account for roughly half of these numbers:
Age 1-4: 110
Age 5-9: 51
Age 10-14: 55
You can get free or subsidized flu shots from many health care organizations and local government health departments, even if you don’t qualify for public aid. Even if you pay, many insurance companies cover all or part of the cost.
Let’s look at another epidemic, a real one, killing nearly 9 times more children than the flu and pneumonia and other contagious diseases, combined.
Age 1-4: 489 (#2 cause)
Age 5-9: 560 (#1 cause)
Age 10-14: 763 (#1 cause)
There’s a readily available vaccine for these kids that is proven effective. If only the #1 killer of kids got even a fraction of the attention that the flu gets. The American Academy of Pediatrics supports this with similar recommendations. Yet, insurance companies don’t cover this vaccine and finding free or subsidized ones from the government or health care agencies is difficult, if not impossible to find in most areas, even for those on public aid. What gives?