Updated: Aug 23, 2020
To vaccinate your child or not to vaccinate your child for the flu? The dilemma of every parent when cold and flu season begins. This year we opted out and decided not to get Tristan the flu shot. Mainly because we felt that his immune system was stronger now that he was two and half versus when he was six months old. He also takes multivitamins daily and he had been in preschool for over a year now so we felt that his immune system was stronger. Also, we as his parents don't get the flu shot so why would we let our child get it? We were definitely in for a surprise just two weeks after declining to get him vaccinated.
You might of already guessed it but Tristan and I both ended up with the flu at the same time. What are the odds? Talk about a series of unfortunate events. When in doubt, always go with your gut feeling. I noticed Tristan started to have cold like symptoms and his behavior changed, he was more sleepy and sluggish than usual and he had a low grade fever for two nights in a row. So I started to get alarmed after the second night of a continued fever and made him a doctor's appointment with his pediatrician the next day.
Once we got to the doctor they tested him for the flu and turns out, he had the flu. This was the first time T had ever gotten the flu. The flu resembles the common cold but usually has additional symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea and etc. For those who may not be familiar with the flu, it is defined as, an acute contagious viral infection of humans, characterized by inflammation of the respiratory tract and by fever, chills and muscular pain. After leaving the doctor I dropped off his prescriptions at the pharmacy and when I got back in the car and thought to myself... could I have avoided this situation by getting him vaccinated? Honestly there's no true answer to that question. Often times children get sick even when they receive the vaccine and others do not, it's just a catch 22. Kids will get sick because they are growing little beings who have to build immunity. According to babycenter.com common symptoms of the flu in toddlers include:
Fever or feeling feverish (although not everyone with flu has a fever)
Chills and body shakes
Dry, hacking cough
Runny or stuffy nose
Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
Cough and fever that last longer than two weeks Ear pain or a feeling of pressure in the head or face
Vomiting and diarrhea (uncommon- but Tristan experienced this)
If your child starts to experience any of these symptoms be sure to consult your child's pediatrician because they might have the flu. So after two weeks of fighting the flu, here are my best practices for getting through the flu with a two year old:
Observe your child
Changes in behavior will usually be the first things you'll notice in your little one. According to a healthline article done by Corey Whelan, "Colds often come on gradually, whereas flu symptoms come on quickly. In general, your child will seem sicker if they get the flu than they will if they get a cold. The flu also includes symptoms that colds typically do not, such as chills, dizziness, and muscle aches.
Be patient.... be patient... be patient. I cannot say this phrase enough, it is quite easy to get frustrated with your little one when they are sick. Especially if they are not fully talking yet because the only way they know how to communicate is to cry. Cooped up in a house with a crying toddler for a week can test every bit of patience you thought you had but I found that just showing a little TLC can go a long way with you sick little one. If you don't believe me read more here.
Humidifiers are your child's best friend
Humidifiers will help your child clear congestion and make it easier for your child to breathe. This also helped me as I was too fighting off the flu and not feeling well and having to care of a cranky toddler who cant sleep due to congestion and cough is not fun. The most important thing is to keep your child comfortable. I got a humidifier as a baby shower gift and it is one of the best gifts I have ever gotten, it's literally the gift that keeps on giving. I have this one and I absolutely love it. But if you are more into fancier ones, check out this list here.
Resting is essential to a speedy recovery for your toddler. Be sure that you let your toddler make their own schedule, be flexible. Because their body is fighting off the sickness they need lots of rest and sometimes their sleep pattern can go off of schedule. I found it hard to adjust to my son's sleep schedule because although I was sick I still had to work from home which proved to be quite difficult. If you are like me and find it hard to adjust, check out these easy tips on getting your toddler to bed.
So overall I am glad I decided not to vaccinate my son for the flu. Although we were cooped up in the house together for a week. I was able to take a break from everything and just focus on Tristan and making sure he was as comfortable as possible. Yes, he did end up catching the flu but he was able to build his immunity to it and has not been under the weather since (knocks on wood). If you're ever wondering on rather or not to vaccinate your child, ask yourself these questions.
1. If your child gets sick, can you take the days off from work needed to care for your child or make the arrangements so that they have at home care?
2. Are you okay with getting sick? Because nine times out of ten whatever your little one gets you will get.
After assessment of those questions lastly do your own research and identify which vaccines you want to get your child and which ones you would like to opt out of. Most pediatricians will give you a list of vaccines that your child is expected to get and from there you can narrow down your list or choose to get them all. You can also check out the full list by age here.