Friday, October 23, 2009

Most parents can't pick what vaccine kids get:

Health officials choose the type of H1N1 vaccine based on children's health histories.
Copyright: © 2009 Idaho Statesman
Published: 10/21/09

Rick Sager and his wife did their homework on the H1N1 flu vaccines before deciding whether or not to get their 6-year-old son vaccinated. They decided the nasal mist would be best.

They sent their son, a first-grader at Ponderosa Elementary in Meridian, to school with a signed consent form that said they wanted him to get the nasal mist.
But the nurses gave their son a shot.

"He was very concerned," said Sager, who is angry that the nurses disregarded his preference on the consent form. He has complained to school officials and wants other parents to know that this could happen to them, too.

Part of the reason the Sagers wanted their son to get the nasal mist vaccine was because they wanted to help protect their 3-week-old baby and 4-year-old son, who has asthma, from exposure to H1N1.

But the couple would have opted against vaccination if they'd known their son's only option was the shot. They are not anti-vaccine - they said their 6-year-old is current on all of his childhood vaccinations - but they are concerned about substances in the injectable vaccine, including the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal and other additives.

Central District Health Immunization Program Manager Teresa Collins said she understands parents' concerns. She said the quantity of mercury in the vaccine is extremely minimal.

"In all honesty, you get more mercury by eating a can of tuna fish than you do in a complete series of vaccinations," Collins said.

Sager said he was told that the reason his son was given the shot, rather than the mist, was because he'd received the seasonal flu mist 2? weeks ago. Health officials won't vaccinate with the H1N1 flu mist if a person has received the seasonal flu mist within the previous 28 days.

"We don't make the rules," said Dave Fotsch, spokesman for Central District Health Department.

Fotsch said the letter that was sent home to parents - and posted on the health district's Web site - doesn't say that the health district would guarantee that parents could select the form of the vaccine their child receives.

The Oct. 14 letter says, "We will be administering nasal spray vaccine for all children except for those who have certain medical conditions, such as asthma and diabetes."

"If they don't want to take a chance of their child getting the injectable form of the vaccine, don't fill out the (consent) form," Fotsch said.

Fotsch said he's fielded calls from a handful of parents with similar concerns.


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