“Last winter was the first time my family – myself, my daughter and her father – got a flu shot. I will do it every year from now on and call on other parents to do so too.”
Sylvie Olifson, Scientific Officer and Head of Influenza Projects at the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, firmly believes that parents should take control of the health of the children, and not just leave it up to nature. “We have the responsibility as parents to protect them until they are adults,” she says.
Sylvie doesn’t want to see her daughter suffer from aching muscles, aching joints, sweatiness, high temperature, and the generally dreadful feeling that accompanies a bout of flu. Also, she doesn’t want her 11-year old daughter to miss out on her schooling.
“If my daughter caught the flu she would not only have to suffer with the virus, but she would miss a whole week of school,” she explains. “She would then have to catch up with double the volume of work the week after, while she is still feeling weak. As her parent, I am responsible for protecting her from that.”
But it isn’t just her daughter that Sylvie is concerned about. She is also worried her daughter might pass flu onto her elderly grandmother. This might lead to grandma being hospitalized with severe flu complications that many elderly people succumb to.
“My daughter visits her grandmother every week,” she reveals. “If she caught the flu, the symptoms might not show up for a couple of days. During this time there is a danger she could pass the virus onto her grandmother whose immune system is weak, and so is more likely to get severely ill. If she got ill, my daughter would know that it was her fault and that would make her feel terrible.”
That is why Sylvie firmly believes parents must ensure that their kids get the flu shot. “It takes some effort and the children may feel a little tired after receiving their shot as their bodies begin producing antibodies, but that is all worth it when they don’t get sick,” she tells us.
Last year Sylvie’s daughter didn’t miss a single day off school because of any winter diseases. In previous years, she had suffered from numerous sore throats and ear infections.
Sylvie concludes by encouraging other parents to protect their children – along with their wider families – from the flu. “We cannot relax and just say ‘Oh well, that’s just nature’ whenever our children are suffering. We must act. We must ensure our children are immunized against the flu.”