We Want to Spread Holiday Cheer, Not the Flu This Year!

We’re so grateful to Kimberly Dobine for partnering with us to share her story. Read the full piece on her blog here.

It’s that time of year again! Time to gather with loved ones during the holiday season, but not before protecting yourself and your family. December 5th-9th is National Influenza Vaccination Week and it’s important for me to share the importance of vaccines and protecting yourself and your family. Before the holiday season could even begin, my family and I experienced the scariest time in our lives, and it’s my mission to share with as many people as I can, the importance of protecting yourself with certain vaccines this holiday and winter season.

On Saturday October 15, 2022, I noticed that my then two-week-old newborn son, Chancellor, had a slight cough and a few little sneezes here and there, but nothing alarming. Later in the evening I noticed his cough became more of a choke or gasping for air, but I continued to monitor him because I knew he had a follow up doctors appointment on Monday. Sunday and Monday things were pretty much the same, no major changes. I spoke with our pediatrician at the appointment, and she said to just continue to monitor him like I’ve been doing. She also gave the normal recommendations of keeping his nose suctioned and using saline solution in his nose if necessary. On the evening of Tuesday October 18, 2022, however, things would make a drastic change.

We went to Henry Ford West Bloomfield’s emergency (the hospital where he was born) only to find out within the first 20 minutes of waiting in Triage that our 2-week-old son had in fact caught RSV. “How is this possible?” I screamed, “We’ve been in the house and to doctor’s appointments. And the only times we’ve had to be out, he’s been fully covered, so how could this be happening?” I was absolutely devastated.

We were immediately admitted to begin his treatment. Still unclear on how he got it. By Wednesday morning we were transported via ambulance from Henry Ford West Bloomfield to Children’s Hospital Downtown for his continued treatment. It was worse than we thought. At this point he had just turned 3 weeks old. This is my brand-new tiny baby boy. He hasn’t even taken his newborn pictures or had all his immunizations yet. Everything started happening so fast.

Everything in my world was now on hold until my baby was healthy and healed. Canceling travel plans for a project I had worked on for months, not seeing my daughter in person for over a week, you name it, everything stopped.

After they decided it was time to remove the breathing tubes from his throat and start weening him from all the breathing support it was literally a roller coaster of doing well, and then not so well. We went through it all. But the team of doctors and nurses in PICU at Children’s Hospital were amazing and did everything their power to get Chancellor back to his healthy self!

After many prayers, and 13 days in the hospital, we were finally able and blessed to take our newborn son home! We feel so grateful and beyond blessed that God kept his arms around Chancellor during this scary time. All of this happened before Chancellor was even old enough to get his first set of vaccines, so I’ve been extremely diligent about not letting anyone visit and not being around lots of people until Chancellor gets his first set of vaccines.

RSV is nothing to play with. Both of our children have experienced this terrible virus and we urge parents to keep their children healthy and safe this season. Also considering that children pass germs so easily and so frequently, protecting my school aged child is so important to me, so she isn’t passing things on to her infant brother. You don’t want to have to isolate your children from one another, so keeping up with their vaccinations will help to eliminate that stress. Because of everything our newborn experience in the hospital, his pediatrician advised us to wait until he was at least 8 weeks before we moved forward with any of his scheduled vaccines. So, before he turned 8 weeks staying home and keeping him away from people has been my main priority. We want to be well and have the ability to gather with family when the time comes this holiday season. Having a sick newborn was one of the worst things my husband and I have ever experienced, and I don’t want to see anyone go through what we experienced. Refrain from exposing your small children to too many people at once. I wouldn’t wish our experience on anyone, especially someone with a newborn. There is never really any way to know how your child may get RSV or the flu or even Covid-19, but we can at least make small steps to keep them from contracting these and many other viruses. Please protect your families by continuing to wear masks, washing hands often, and keeping children out of each other’s faces. Ever little bit helps! With RSV spreading rapidly, having hospitals full of children and the elderly, it’s so important to get vaccinated for vaccine-preventable illnesses like flu and COVID-19 to reduce the burden on our healthcare system. Sure we know some vaccines cannot prevent you from contracting certain illnesses, however we do know they reduce a level of intensity, and can also prevent hospitalization for some.

Here are just some of the benefits to getting the flu vaccine:

  1. Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with the flu.
    • Flu vaccination prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related doctor’s visits each year.
    • Flu vaccination has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor due to the flu by 40 to 60 percent.
  1. Flu vaccination helps keep you and your loved ones out of the hospital.
    • Flu vaccination prevents tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year.
    • Flu vaccination reduced children’s risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).
    • In recent years, flu vaccines have reduced the risk of flu hospitalizations among adults by about 40 percent.
  1. If you do get sick with the flu, flu vaccination can make it less severe.
    • Flu vaccination among adults reduced the risk of being admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) with flu by 82 percent, during flu season.
  1. Flu vaccination can save children’s lives.
    • Flu vaccination reduced the risk of dying from the flu by half (51 percent) among children with underlying high-risk medical conditions and by nearly two-thirds (65 percent) among healthy children, according to a 2017 study.
  1. Flu vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy.
  2. Flu vaccination helps prevent the flu in people with chronic health conditions.

I Vaccinate have a ton of information and resources available to help navigate through what vaccines are best for you and your family. Head over to IVaccinate.org during National Influenza Vaccination Week for more information and data.

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You’ve got questions. That’s a good thing.

As parents, determining how best to protect our children can be overwhelming and confusing. We’re here to help.

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About I Vaccinate

I Vaccinate provides information and tools based on real medical science and research to help Michigan parents protect their kids. Support is provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Franny Strong Foundation.

You’ve got questions. That’s a good thing.

As parents, determining how best to protect our children can be overwhelming and confusing. We’re here to help.

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