Grandparents typically hate saying no, but if you are asked to babysit a child with the flu, just say no.
This advice is straight from the mouth of Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In a New York Times story, Dr. Frieden said that the flu season is "worse than average and particularly bad for the elderly," adding, "Having a grandparent baby-sit a sick child may not be a good idea."
I'm sure that Dr. Frieden knows that not all grandparents are elderly, but a good many are, and others are caretakers for the elderly. It makes sense to let a grandchild's immediate family, likely to be already exposed, take care of an ill child. That's why "Let me know if they are sick" is one of my 10 Things Grandparent Babysitters Want Parents to Know.
This year's flu outbreak appears to be similar to the 2003-4 outbreak, in which most deaths occurred among the elderly, as opposed to the 2009-10 season. That year the elderly appeared to have some immunity, possibly caused by the similarity of the flu strain to an earlier version.
The CDC maintains a page about this particular flu season, with topics such as how well the vaccine is working. The vaccine appears to reduce your chances of having to go to the doctor with the flu by about 60%, as well as reducing hospitalizations and deaths. In summary, the CDC suggests saying yes to the shot and no to staying with a sick grandchild. Some of us would prefer reversing those answers.
Have you or your family members had the flu this year? Leave a comment below.
More From Grandparents' Viewpoint:
And From Parents' Viewpoint: