3 Reasons To Get A Flu Shot- with your Au Pair

by cv harquail on November 3, 2014

Cold’n sneezy season.

I have just returned from CVS, where I bought zinc lozenges, throat spray, tissues, Ricola, and sudafed. And, I got a flu shot.

There’s nothing you can do about a cold– just deal with it, wash your hands, and move on. But the flu? The real, honest-to-goodness slay-you-with-sickness-phlem-and-fever flu?

That can be avoided, with a simple remedy you can also get at CVS. Or Walgreens, or Duane Reade, or many other convenient places.

You don’t have to die from influenza. Instead, you can just get really, really sick, and possibly infect other people who are less hardy than you.

Or, you can get an annual flu shot or the new flu mist.

Because a member of our immediate family is especially vulnerable to viruses, and because one child in our family has asthma, we have always required everyone in our household to get an annual flu shot– and that includes our au pairs. We prescreen our au pairs on their willingness to get an influenza vaccine. If a candidate says she would not be willing to get a flu shot, we don’t match with her. We’re that serious.

Some families, however, haven’t needed to be quite as alert about flu vaccines… You may not have thought to ask your au pair to get a vaccine, you may not have considered how to get her to a vaccination station, and you may not have considered paying the $15 to $45 that a flu vaccine costs. Well, on the advice of the CDC (Center for Disease Control), my pediatrician, and probably your pediatrician too, start thinking about getting everyone vaccinated.

Here are three reasons why you should get your au pair a flu shot.

1. Your Au Pair could get sick with the flu.

Having the flu sucks. It really does. When you get the flu, you are (as Heidi Klum would say) “ouwt”. For days. Maybe even weeks. Plus, you feel sick, really sick. Even after you “recover” you can feel weak and unsteady for another several days. Who wants to do that? Also, if your Au Pair gets sick, you will need to care for her. We often can’t care for ourselves when we are terribly ill, and we need someone to help us… and your au pair might need care from you.

2. Your Au Pair could infect your children and other people’s children.

Needless to say, this would be awful. Children are more susceptible, more vulnerable, and less likely to be able to tough their way through one or two weeks of illness. You don’t know who in your neighborhood, or school, or playgroup, has been vaccinated and you may not know whether someone is particularly vulnerable. Why put others at risk?

Of course, you should get your children (and yourself!) vaccinated against the flu. In most situations that vaccine will protect them. However, it is possible for the flu virus to mutate enough that the flu your au pair catches may not be the flu your kids are protected against. Why take the chance?

3. Your Au Pair could miss work. And fun.

In addition to caring about your au pair as a person and as a member of your extended family, she is also your employee. If she gets the flu, who’s going to care for your children? Do you and your partner get sick days? Do you have lots of vacation days you can use for emergency childcare? I don’t mean to sound heartless here, but covering for a sick au pair can be difficult, costly, and stressful.

Your au pair can avoid getting the flu, by getting a flu vaccine. Help her do that.

I don’t want to hear ¬†people’s arguments that flu shots aren’t necessary, that they aren’t safe, that they cause the flu, etc. ¬†The shot won’t make you or anyone else sick with the flu. 99% of the concerns you’ll hear are myths, shared by the uninformed, because they are bored with conversations about the weather.

Check the CDC website or trustworthy websites for the scientific facts about flu vaccines and their safety.

As a sensible person, as a parent, and as a host parent, you are responsible for protecting your family as best you can. That means:

Take your Au Pair for a Flu Shot.

{ 53 comments }

ChiHost Mom November 3, 2014 at 10:55 pm

Thank you for this post. We require everyone in our family including the au pair to get one. We mention this during matching, there will be no anti-science arguments permitted on vaccines in my house. We also pay for the flu shot for our au pairs.

Kiki November 3, 2014 at 11:40 pm

We required our au pair to get a flu shot. We hadn’t talked about it before we matched because the flu was the last thing on my mind this summer, so thankfully he didn’t have an issue with it. We offered to pay for whatever insurance didn’t cover. I edited our handbook to include the vaccine requirement, because this is something I do take lightly. It’s foolish not to get vaccinated and even more so when you work with kids.

Didis November 4, 2014 at 1:14 am

I agree with getting shot, and I got it as family requested. I just wanted to share how my family’s approach to topic was: “You need to get flu shot this week.”
and that was it.
Even though it make sense and it is common knowledge, giving quick info to au pair why you find it important to be done and in timely manner might be good approach, since, for example in my culture majority of people don’t get flu shots and I did not find it to be important and unless requested it would never cross my mind that it could be beneficial for me and whole family.

AuPair Paris November 4, 2014 at 7:02 am

Woah, you can just get a flu vaccination on request in the US? In the UK they only give it to older people and other highly at risk people. I’d get it every year if I could.

I had flu in the middle of the year here, during a holiday… So the family was away and I was all alone with this horrible, debilitating illness… I could barely move. Just managed to get to the toilet and back, and fill a water bottle from the sink… For about 5 days, that’s all I could do! On the sixth day, the kids were back at school, and the parents being away, they hadn’t known I was ill… I thought I was better enough to do my job anyway, so I didn’t mention it, and ended up being sick on the school run. (With my nine year old irritably yelling that we were going to be late as I retched into a bin…)

Ahem. So yeah, I don’t know why anyone in the world would not want to avoid that if they could! Awful.

OpinionatedHM November 4, 2014 at 9:30 am

Yes. You can get the flu shot in America at almost any grocery store pharmacy, walk-in health clinic, drugstores (like CVS or Walgreens), and lots of other places. The trick is you have to pay for it.
In the UK they only give it for free to high risk groups, but I’m sure you can pay to have a flu shot there too, if you don’t fit into a high risk category.
We pay every year to get the whole family (this includes our AP!) flu shots. This year they even lowered the age for the flu mist so my kids didn’t have to stress about getting a needle poked in their arms. The flu mist is squirted into your nose. It takes 2 seconds and is totally worth the $30!

NoVA Twin Mom November 4, 2014 at 11:11 am

I agree completely – but want to add one detail about the flu mist. It’s not available to those with asthma – people with asthma need to get the shot. So if your child has asthma, don’t promise them no needles! :)

AuPair Paris November 4, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Ah I see. Yeah I’d never even considered moving away from the NHS (my fave thing about my country). But I’ll have to research what the options are in France. I *bet* you can get them pretty easily here (The French can be a little… zealous… About their health), and I bet it’s even reimbursed/partly reimbursed with my European Health Card.

CAtoTXMom November 4, 2014 at 8:37 am

We all get the flu shot every year and we pay for our Au pair’s vaccine too. End of story.

Old China Hand November 4, 2014 at 9:09 am

I will add this to our handbook and interview questions. Our last ap refused to get the flu shot. Not for pseudo science reasons but just because she didn’t feel like she needed it. Thanks for the reminder since I am currently matching.

WarmStateMomma November 4, 2014 at 10:37 am

We let people know before matching that it’s required. This is a good reminder to get our AP to get her shot this week. I will also tell her successor she has to get the pertussis shot before arrival since we will have a 3mo.

OpinionatedHM November 4, 2014 at 10:38 am

We require the flu shot. We discuss it before the AP’s arrival. It’s part of our staying healthy when you work with children discussion. Get enough sleep. Eat. Wash your hands. Get a flu shot.
We’ve had to dispel some misconceptions about flu shots and had quite a few questions about why we require it and one “I need to ask my parents if it’s okay” but all of our APs have agreed. Only one of our APs has gotten the flu and she was the one who said she had had one at home already. (She was also our only rematch. Getting a flu shot wasn’t the only thing she mislead us about.). We now require that our APs have a flu shot when they arrive in the US. Of course we pay for it. It’s to our benefit that our AP stays healthy.

Kids are little Petri dishes and they are surrounded by other Petri dishes all day. I once chaperoned a school field trip and I swear every kid had a finger in a nose or mouth at some point during the day. That’s all I needed to become a hand washing, flu shot getting advocate.

Taking a Computer Lunch November 4, 2014 at 12:52 pm

The Camel is medically fragile, and while we’ve never warned our APs in advance, all of them have willingly had a flu shot. Like OHM, I also talk about washing hands before eating and before feeding the Camel. I also urge APs not to share food and drinks with each other or their HK (that petri dish thing). We’re having a run of both viral and bacterial meningitis in our city. Child #2 had bacterial meningitis as an infant, and I never want to go through that with anyone again. (The Camel is so fragile that she went into liver failure and was hospitalized with mono.)

We not only pay for the flu shot (actually, we reimburse), we pay for any illness that an AP acquires from a child that requires medical treatment. CVS has a wonderful “Minute clinic” that makes health care affordable on AP health insurance for routine illnesses.

OpinionatedHM November 4, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Oh wow, yeah, the sharing of food and drinks. I never thought to mention this until I overheard our current AP encouraging my daughter to drink out of her cup and when my daughter said she wasn’t supposed to share drinks, the AP told her it was okay. That led to a big talk between me and the AP on both germs and respecting the kids when they say they aren’t allowed to do something. I’m adding it to the book!

Texas5TimeHostMom November 4, 2014 at 11:45 am

Yes, our au pairs have gotten the flu shot every year, sometimes I’ve gone with them when I missed the free day at my company. I also required one to get the Tdap shot when we had a newborn in the house. We all got it. In my experience, the vaccinations in the US are done with much smaller needles than my au pairs experienced in their home countries and they have been surprised about how easy it is.

WestMom November 4, 2014 at 2:00 pm

I asked AP4 to get a flu shot bc one of our kids has a very low immune system and very prone to illness. She happily complied.

Since then, I haven’t asked. Problem is that my husband is terrorized of needles and refuses to get the flu shot for himself. I would like everyone in our family (except for fragile child) to get vaccinated but it seems bit unfair to ask AP to do it, when DH refuses to…

I’ll breach the topic once again this year…

Returning HM November 4, 2014 at 3:32 pm

The flu mist has been proven to be very effective and doesn’t involve needles. It also doesn’t have thimerosal, which is a big benefit. Might be a good option for your husband?

WestMom November 4, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Apparently the mist if not really effective above 45yrs… That’s what the doc said anyway. Oh well, I’ll have to fight that battle again with my DH/4th child…

Returning HM November 4, 2014 at 7:52 pm

According to the CDC it’s equally effective til 50 yrs. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/nasalspray.htm

Returning HM November 4, 2014 at 7:55 pm

And I should also add, the CDC recommends the shot over the mist at 50, but they recommend the mist over nothing, so if your husband won’t do the shot but will do the mist, it may be something to consider?

TexasHM November 5, 2014 at 8:56 am

Our doc also said the cutoff at 50 was nonsense and that he sent a 60 year old to get the mist a few days ago.

Kiki November 4, 2014 at 3:41 pm

WestMom, as the wife of a needle-phone, I still required our AP get a flu shot. Honestly, it’s more of a hardship if our au pair gets sick than if my husband does. We don’t need back-up childcare if my husband gets sick. We tell our au pair he needs to be a good role model for our kids…and sometimes he’ll need to be one for my husband too. ???? Thankfully, the availability of the flu mist is making the struggle with my husband over the flu vaccine less of an issue. But bottom line is that there are going to be things I will make our au pair do even if I can’t make my husband.

HRHM November 5, 2014 at 11:25 am

You can rematch with your AP, but you can’t rematch with your husband (at least it’s a lot messier! LOL)

QuirkyMom November 10, 2014 at 3:10 pm

For the needle-phobes, there’s also the intradermal version of the flu shot — it uses a much smaller, thinner needle, it’s not inserted as deeply, and it’s a smaller bolus of the vaccine, so overall it’s usually less painful. My husband, au pair, and I just got this at a CVS Minute Clinic last week. It was definitely itchier than the regular flu shot of years past, and the injection site has been a little sore with pressure, but overall much less painful and achy than the regular flu shot. At least at our CVS Minute Clinics FluMist is not available, and as someone else has mentioned it’s contraindicated for those with asthma.

Seattle Mom November 25, 2014 at 7:31 pm

I’m a needle phobe and I still got the flu shot this year. It was my first flu shot. I did have to do a lot to talk myself into it, and it helped that they were doing them for free in my office. I don’t think I would have driven anywhere to get one. It does help that I have learned to deal with my needle phobia through peace corps.. we got a lot of needles in those 2 years. But I still have a phobia.

I admit that some people have it worse. My sister literally passes out whenever a needle touches her. She once had to have an IV as part of some routine procedure at a hospital. It was supposed to be a one-hour appointment but she freaked out the medical staff by passing out and going into convulsions on the floor, all from a needle. They ended up keeping her all day to do cat scans and stuff, they thought something was really wrong with her. But they found nothing, and she told them it was just needle phobia.

I pass along this story in case anyone does not believe that needle phobias are real. Yes it is psychological but it’s not something that you can just “get over.” I can’t believe how much stress I had over that one flu shot. But honestly for me getting through peace corps and childbirth is what makes it possible for me to voluntarily get a shot today. And I make up songs about how it doesn’t hurt, cat scratch is worse, la la la, while getting it done. I used to have to take tranquilizers to go to the dentist (another phobia) but since childbirth I haven’t had to do that.. now I know how to do self hypnosis and that helps just a little.

DC Metro Mom November 4, 2014 at 4:20 pm

DD also has asthma, so we are also in the “we both require, and pay for,” camp for the flu vaccine. It is not optional, and we discuss it during the matching process.

We’ve never had anyone ask, but after reading this, I am thinking about adding a vaccine/healthcare “did you know” sheet section to the HFHB. At our employee health, they have some great hand outs with the pros of the vaccine, ways to prevent diseases, etc. They are fairly user friendly and not too over-the-top in the information dissemination.

Has anyone else tried this? Have you gotten positive/negative feedback?

NNTexasHM November 4, 2014 at 4:43 pm

It’s really important to have the discussion before the Au Pair arrives. Our last Au Pair declined it last winter during a particularly bad flu epidemic (which impacted even healthy people in their 20s in our area of Dallas.) While the schools in our area were setting up emergency flu vaccination clinics and offering the vaccine for as low as $15 to help ward it off, she simply didn’t feel the need as she wasn’t someone who typically got sick. It made a tense situation with an Au Pair who came across as somewhat inconsiderate that much worse. I delicately explained it was important not just for her health but our family and child and further, we would all suffer consequences if she got sick. I offered to have my parents (who happen to be doctors educated and trained at top programs in Boston) talk to her about her concerns that the flu would get her sick (a misconception) but none of it made any difference.

Luckily she didn’t end up getting sick but after that I determined I would definitely make it part of the screening process going forward. Whether you think it’s the right approach or not, it’s important to be on the same page.

Skny November 4, 2014 at 7:52 pm

I agree it should be discussed on handbook. We do not vacinate at all and would never require our Au pair to do so. I would also not take a job that would required me to

Emerald City HM November 5, 2014 at 3:20 am

We required out second au pair to get both pertussis and flu because of having a newborn in the house that wasn’t old enough.

We have not required it since then, but sate willing to pay.

One thing we did note at the time of our second au pair was that her insurance specifically did not cover adverse reactions to vaccines. I know APC recently switched insurance and I haven’t checked the new plan, but maybe this is an aspect that should be taken up with the agencies. I think that is a generally crappy concept for the insurance to disallow coverage for the rare reaction to preventative medicine.

exAuPair November 5, 2014 at 11:23 am

This has actually been a hot topic in an au pair discussion board I am active on. From what I have learned from there, it’s a good idea to clearly communicate to a prospective au pair that you will require them to get a flu shot (or any other vaccination, be it pertussis or MMR) if that’s what you want/need and make them agree to this in writing.

There have been at least three rather heated discussions over the last year or so and there have been quite a few au pairs who said they would never get a flu shot and rather go into rematch than agreeing to it. Some went so far as to say that they’d outright lie to a prospective host family if they liked them and would tell them they were open to getting a flu shot after arrival even if they would never consider getting one. They argued that as soon as they were there and the family got to know them by the time the flu season came around they would just refuse to get the shot, argue with the family, stand their ground and assumed the family would not send them into rematch over something as trivial as this.

Thing is, if you match with an au pair that is against vaccinations (or even just against flu shots) it is very unlikely that you will be able to convince her to get one. Vaccinations are like politics and religion in a way. As soon as people have made up their mind it is unlikely to change just based on a discussion and when it comes to vaccinations you will be able to find so much anti-vaccination material on the internet and it’s so easy to just call everything else big pharma propaganda. Just as the other way round you can find a lot of pro-vaccination material and call everything else holistic.
Whatever your family’s view on this topic is, it is important to let the au pair know and make sure they understand it. Otherwise you need to be okay with an au pair refusing to get a shot (that is assuming a non-vaccinating family won’t mind their au pair getting a flu shot even if they don’t and if they don’t ask her… but so far my impression is that the problem is mostly the other way round) or be prepared to go into rematch over this especially if you have children who are medically fragile and need their caretaker to be vaccinated.

WarmStateMomma November 5, 2014 at 1:04 pm

If my AP lied to me about getting the flu shot and then came down with the flu, she would be out of the house that day no matter how sick she was. The risk of her contaminating my toddler or baby is too high to let her linger, and I’d be furious that she’d purposely put my little ones at risk of that much misery. Once you’ve watched your sick baby sobbing in the ER, you will never tolerate anyone intentionally putting her at risk.

FWIW – It’s common for child care and medical field jobs in the US to require certain vaccinations, precisely to avoid the caregivers getting ill (and being unable to work) and spreading preventable diseases to vulnerable people who have little control over their caregivers’ exposure to diseases.

Host Mom in the City November 5, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Doesn’t it not protect against all flu strains? And of course, many things can look like the flu that aren’t. So I wouldn’t automatically assume that a very sick au pair had lied to you about getting the shot.

WarmStateMomma November 5, 2014 at 2:25 pm

We would never just toss out a sick AP, but if I found out that she lied and then brought the flu into my home, she’d be out the door. ExAP mentioned above that some APs plan to just refuse to get the flu shot when they arrive after telling the family they’re willing to get it.

I have heard that the flu shot does not protect against all strains, so we ask our AP to have her shot in the US (where presumably, it’s formulated to protect against the strains she’s most likely to encounter here).

AuPair Paris November 6, 2014 at 4:05 am

I think it’s reasonably common to get the flu even with a flu shot (but crucially, not nearly as common as getting the flu without a flu shot, and since even that’s not *that* common* obviously the vaccination is totally worth it.).

But yeah. It’s a stupid thing to lie about. Even if you have a huge phobia of needles or stupid ideas about “dangerous” vaccinations. (I have much sympathy for the former, but *none* for the latter. Educate yourselves, au pairs! And others…) I just don’t see what on earth the objection could be! five seconds of a needle prick vs. the lengthy agony of rematch?! Or the two weeks of misery (+ however many months of weakness) that you get with the flu?!

As for lying about it – look, it’s deceitful in any case to lie about a vaccination, but it could also be so, so dangerous. If you’re the kind of person who is so ill-informed as to think that a vaccination is unsafe, you’re probably not that kind of person who’s going to pay attention to phrases like “my child is immunocompromised” or similar. Which is freaking *terrifying*.

exAuPair November 6, 2014 at 8:29 am

I assume that WSM would not kick out an au pair that got the flu despite getting a flu shot in the US ;) as yes, even with a flu shot you may still get the flu. Or any other regular cold of course. But lying about it and then getting sick, especially if your host family has asked you to get the shot, is… maybe not the best thing to do?

I agree with APP about vaccinations being a stupid thing to lie about. I have to admit that I don’t see what the objection is either but if you are anti-vaccinations at least let your host family know so that they can make the decision if not being vaccinated is okay for them or not. I think it’s a matter of trust. And it shouldn’t be a problem for an au pair that doesn’t want to get vaccinated to find a family without an immunocompromised child who doesn’t mind their au pair not getting a flu shot.

But then of course I don’t understand why an au pair would lie to a prospective host family (and vice versa). But that’s a totally different story…

MGHostMom November 8, 2014 at 5:53 pm

What you write rings true. My au pair’s best au pair friend just rematched for her refusal to get a flu shot. Fortunately, I had asked my au pair if she was willing when we matched (thanks to reading this site — I would never have thought of it!) I asked my au pair why her friend refused and she told me that “no one” in their home country (Austria) gets flu shots. Each of them actually consulted with their doctor in Austria to see if it was ok to get one. My au pair’s doc said essentially, “there’s no point, but it won’t hurt.” Her friend’s doc actually advised against it. My au pair said there was a lot of chatter on her preferred Facebook page of au pairs telling one another not to get vaccinated, with all the standard myths about why.

HRHM November 5, 2014 at 11:28 am

AP went to Target yesterday and got the shot. It was 32 bucks and she had the choice of shot or mist. I advise you call ahead to see what your local pharmacy (Target, CVS, Walgreens) has on hand the day of and also what their pharmacists hours are. They won’t do it while he/she is on lunch break and they won’t do it within 30 minutes of closing as they want her to hang around in case there is a reaction.

I would also warn the AP (as I did mine) that the flumist will give you a stuffy head for a couple days. You aren’t “sick” but your immune system does react to it…

UKAuPair November 5, 2014 at 11:38 am

I’m pro-vaccination, but I would refuse on principle to take a job that required me to be vaccinated against flu. It’s possibly coming from a British background, where flu jabs are available for the elderly (and also I think the very young, pregnant women and asthmatics?) but not required/particularly reccommended for anyone else. I understand the points that have been made about not wanting to cover for a sick AP, but I also think that they’re more likely to come down with D&V than flu. I’m also slightly perturbed by the comment about HC not being allowed to share cups with other people. Again, it might be a cultural thing (I believe Americans tend to be much more rigid and germ-phobic in their childrearing) but here the general consensus tends to be: wash your hands, cover your mouth when you sneeze/cough, but apart from that a little dirt never hurt anyone. My policy is that it’s better to be sick as a child and build up your immunity than to spend your whole life in a protective bubble and then fall ill incredibly easily as an adult. Obviously if someone is obviously ill (or medically fragile) then you need to be careful, but if everyone is generally healthy then sharing food/drinks isn’t going to hurt anyone.

Emerald City HM November 6, 2014 at 7:46 pm

I’m hardly a germophobe on the scale of things and I’m on the side of let them get dirty, but my kids shouldn’t be sharing drinks with others. I let them share between the two of them, but I don’t know that other children or adults don’t have strep throat, hand foot and mouth, mononucleosis, or even oral herpes. I don’t want others swapping spit with my children.

People backwash, particularly kids.

Seattle Mom November 25, 2014 at 7:44 pm

I pretty much agree with you but I am not a typical American.

I don’t stress out about sharing cups and that sort of thing, because for me the risks of allowing it do not outweigh the cost of not allowing it. That could change.

Another thing that I find oddly germophobic and wasteful is the practice of using those paper protectors on toilet seats. Do they really protect against anything?

Seattle Mom November 25, 2014 at 8:25 pm

That said, I strongly encourage my AP to get a flu shot and I offer to pay for it and give her information about where to get one.

TexasHM November 5, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Its $14.99 at Costco here and you can walk in and get it in a minutes. It is in our handbook and always has been (we had an infant when we started) and I find it honestly despicable that an au pair would lie about anything that they knew was a factor for a host family in choosing a match (smoking, boyfriend, willingness to get the vaccine, etc). Our au pairs become family to us and that’s what we are looking for and a family member would not lie, come here and bond with my children and then endanger them by refusing to get the shot. I am going to assume that most of the au pairs saying that on whatever site are “internet brave” and I seriously doubt there are many that in real life would be brave enough to actually go into rematch vs getting a shot. That is beyond moronic (lying about something in the hopes of delaying a challenge to rematch) and if it was my au pair I would boot them without a reference regardless of how good a job they did. You lied to me, you jeopardized my children and their care, we are done. I have to believe there are families that don’t require a flu shot so just go match with them! Sorry I get really flared about stupidity like this. Funny how brave all the APs are on the internet, there are APs with REAL problems that they didn’t CREATE out there and I have watched the majority stick it out because they are terrified of rematch and here we have APs on sites bragging about lying or strategizing to mislead HFs. Grow up, do us all a favor and don’t join the AP program. I might pick you instead of a great AP that isn’t a liar that really wants this opportunity and would contribute a lot to our family and community. Why can’t the crappy host families get crappy APs (and vice versa)? :)

exAuPair November 6, 2014 at 9:15 am

Because crappy au pairs usually know how to sell themselves well ;)

I really do hope that most of them are “internet brave” and that for some it’s more of a “herd behavior” than utter conviction. It’s always easy to say something if you have the support of others. Being alone in a country far away from home, living with a different family (that you hopefully like and get along with well), with rematch and possibly being sent home looming over you that might be a totally different story.

But yes. I have to agree that lying about anything when matching with a family is stupid. You would assume that every au pair wants to have a positive and healths relationship with their host family. Lying about important things (experience, boyfriend, smoking, vaccinations, diet – why would you not tell a host family you are vegan???, health issues etc.) might make it easier for you to find a family but it won’t make for a better relationship.

Multitasking Host Mom November 5, 2014 at 7:30 pm

I work at a hospital and as a condition of employment everyone (including those without direct patient care, volunteers, students, etc.) must get a flu shot. Unless you can provide a documented medical reason or religious reason (not just philosophical) you will be terminated if you do not get it. So when I tell my au pair to get the flu shot (and I pay for it) I feel I asking her to do the same thing that my employer does. I haven’t talked about it before matching because it is so common to me to get the flu shot that I didn’t even think about it, and all of my au pairs have gotten it with no problems, but just to avoid any issues I now will be adding a line about it in the handbook.

An au-pair November 9, 2014 at 2:56 am

I was a nurse in my country and we don’t have to get a flu shot – it is our choice! And it should be like that I prefer a prevence to shots. I refused to get the shot – I used to get it since 10-17 because I have an asthma in my anamneza. I always had bad side effects and since then I don’t want to go through that again. My HF was ok with that – they told me that it is my choice and that is right. I love them but if they force me to do that it would make me sad because I am an adult person so I can choose what I want. I would do that rather than leave them but it would probably make a tense. So it is important to talk about this before match!

Resl November 6, 2014 at 9:38 am

As an au pair I definitely feel that is something that should be talked about before matching. I’m not at all against vaccination, but flu shots aren’t commonly done at all where I’m from. They are only recommended for old people and people with a sickness that would put them at high risk. I feel like that’s definitely something I would like to talk over with my doctor instead of having it just sprung on me.

Repeataupair November 6, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Is it something cultural ? As french au pairs, in a facebook group we were actually discussing it and many au pairs said they will not get it (all of us being french/french speaking au pairs), more than a number of au pairs that said they would.
I’m also french and I remember when a couple of years ago a strong flu made it’s way through France (quite a few deaths, etc), when I had asked my doctor about she said she did not advise people in full health to get it, she was mostly against it but would do it to anyone asking.
I also was working with children at the time (camp counselor) and at no time was I asked to do the flu shot but when I started I had to do a shot for another disease (I think Measles if I didn’t get the translation wrong).

Repeataupair November 6, 2014 at 2:17 pm

(Just checked, it was the H1N1 flu)

Emerald City HM November 6, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Some of it could just be that the vaccines are different and rates of occurence are different too.

Our Japanese au pair said that it was common to get the flu vaccine and she got it every year. Our au pairs from Mexico don’t, but flu probably just isn’t common there.

The one au pair we did require to get Pertussis and Flu we ourselves we did doubt making her get the Pertussis booster. She did have the vaccine as a child in Mexico, but it was a different vaccine than they give in the US. They were not having the outbreaks in Mexico that we are getting in the US and it’s entirely possible that their version doesn’t require a booster like ours does, they didn’t offer a booster to adults. We were glad she agreed to get it since she knew it was a concern of ours at the time.

Repeataupair November 6, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Sorry for the third message, I always forget I can’t come back to edit. I forgot to add that my first HF asked me to do the shot and I did it, second HF hasn’t asked, I didn’t do it. My current HF is getting it, I don’t know if they will require me to do it, if they do, I’ll get it but if not I won’t.

TexasHM November 6, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Our current AP is French and I asked her about this. She has always gotten the vaccine because she is a nurse and all hospital personnel are required to get it and she doesn’t think its a big deal (getting it) and it was in our handbook and a non-issue for her. Outside of healthcare professions she said most people in France don’t get it because its not guaranteed to prevent the flu entirely (because there are different strains yada yada) and people there usually try “natural” things to prevent the flu (she rolled her eyes as she said this). So whereas I would venture to say the majority here get them to protect against 90%+ of the current strains apparently in France its all or unnecessary. :)

AuPair Paris November 6, 2014 at 6:40 pm

This is an example of unfair stereotyping, probably, but I live in France, and I find that the number of people who believe in false reports of unsafe vaccinations is higher here. That is, in my circle at home, everyone thinks this anti-vaccination attitude is insane, but in France it seems almost mainstream. Likewise, many of the French people I know believe in alternative medicine. (Even that which has been categorically proven to have no higher rate of efficacy than a similarly administered placebo.)

Obviously, this could be a matter of the circles I mix in in various countries, but I have found it one of my worst ares of culture shock.

Jennc November 6, 2014 at 10:56 pm

I work in healthcare are and am required to get flu shot, I also have a sick child with asthma who flares up bad in winter….all of my kids get the flu shot, unfortunately my asthma kid still got strain A and then the rare strain B. She was horribly sick, the baby got strain A and did not appear that sick….so even with shits you can still get a different strain……. Jen

Jennc November 6, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Haha, shots lol !!!! Not shits!!!! Stupid auto correct

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