Contributing this week’s guest blog is vaccine advocate Erin Bain. Erin recently returned to Texas after living on the East Coast for six years. She and her husband, Joe, met in college at Texas A&M University and married in 2004. In late 2011 they welcomed daughter Genevieve, a blue-eyed, redhead who’s a social butterfly, to their family. After working full-time as a fundraiser she is now staying home with Genevieve and working part-time as a fundraising consultant. Erin recently started her own blog, Domestic Improv, where she shares her ventures in the kitchen and life raising a toddler in Houston, Texas.
Have you ever felt invincible? Your life is full, your plate is full, you and your family are healthy, and that’s the way it’s going to stay. A year and a half ago my husband and I were feeling that way. Our first baby was due in a few months, we were both working long hours, we were about to move, we had just returned from vacation… then we were stopped in our tracks when my husband was diagnosed with a serious illness and a few months later our daughter arrived five weeks premature.
Happily, all three of us are healthy now but these events changed my perspective on many things, including community health. I became acutely aware of how the people I came in contact with everyday could possibly impact my little family and our health. Every time a co-worker came to work looking feverish or the person next to me on the bus coughed I held my breath and said a prayer hoping I wouldn’t bring an illness home to my husband or daughter and their compromised immune systems.
We moved from New York City to Houston just as the flu was beginning to hit Texas hard and I started thinking about community health again. I knew I needed to protect my family from the flu as best as I could, but I also wanted to protect those who may be vulnerable in the way my husband and daughter were during the last cold and flu season. So, one of the first appointments I made was for my daughter’s nine month check-up where she received her vaccine and the next day, with her in one arm a pharmacist administered my shot in the other.
A few weeks later I had a popular medical talk show on in the background and stopped in my tracks. One of the experts on the segment said she did not recommend getting a flu shot unless you were at risk for complications from the influenza because the effectiveness rate was too low (roughly 60%) to warrant the need for the vaccine. I wanted to shake her through the T.V. and say, “Flu shots don’t just protect a healthy person from getting sick!”
A flu shot is one of the simplest ways to protect yourself, your family and your community from spreading this common, yet potentially deadly disease. So, if you’re feeling invincible when flu season arrives, think about the new mother in your office whose infant is too young to receive the vaccine, or the man behind you in line who’s going through chemotherapy and can’t receive a flu shot or the sweet elderly woman you sat next to at church who the vaccine is the least effective for—then, think about getting a flu shot.