Seriously Host Parents — can’t you send me emails about dilemmas that can be announced with catchy headlines???
Very rarely am I able to say — “I never heard of a problem like this before.” While I like novelty as much as the next American, I’m not happy to see this problem now.
This is a doozy, because it touches on all sorts of issues — Agency screening, Au Pair health, Host Family needing support, American Culture, and more — all at the same time.
There are two levels of solutions that are needed here, too. First,
What should the Host Family do?
Longer term, what should be the responsibility of Au Pair Agencies?
If Au Pairs are not currently required to be vaccinated for pertussis, should they be?
(What if an unvaccinated and infectious Au Pair arrived in a home with an infant! Or a home with a medically fragile older child or adult?)
Dear AuPairMom —
Our new au pair arrived one week ago from the rematch pool, and our children took to her immediately on the first night she was here. We were thrilled!
The second day she came down ill and has been sick ever since. She did not want to go to the doctor (she is not from a European country and has cultural views on seeing doctors), but we finally convinced her to go yesterday. The suspected diagnosis is whooping cough (pertussis).
<cv notes: Pertussis is difficult to diagnose positively, in its earliest stages. So, they can’t know for sure whether the Au Pair has a communicable illness that’s fatal to unvaccinated babies, or not.>
This is a big deal for a couple of reasons:
1. We live in a city with low vaccination rates (although our kids are vaccinated against it, which is also not 100% effective);
2. This illness can last up to 12 weeks; and
3. We essentially cannot risk exposing anyone to our new au pair for the duration (no kids in our home, au pair cannot do her job because she can’t be near kids). UGH. I’m so upset.
< cv notes: “Unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated infants younger than 12 months of age have the highest risk for severe and life-threatening complications and death from pertussis”, says the Center For Disease Control. >
What do we do?!?! It seems unfair to end the match when she is clearly so ill, and yet, I desperately need childcare. This doesn’t even touch on the issue of exposing our family and anyone who come over to the illness by living in our home.
What exactly DOES that au pair medical screen entail?!?!?! Is it useful at all?!?!?
Thank you so much for any thoughts that might be helpful. I have no idea what we should do.