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October 20, 2008
To me, the best part of being a journalist is that sometimes my preconceived notions get thrown to the wind in the process of researching an article. After interviewing about two dozen experts for a feature I'm writing on vaccines, I've come to question the wisdom of the new government recommendation that all children be vaccinated against the flu. Let me state this in bold face: I am very much pro-vaccines. My three children were all vaccinated on the recommended schedule and got their chicken pox boosters at their last checkups. But I opted not to give them the flu vaccine.
That's because whereas I once viewed all vaccines as 100 percent risk free and completely necessary, I now see them as akin to very safe medicines. They have saved countless lives, but they're not without their risks. This more complex message often gets lost in the push to get kids vaccinated, because public health officials are justifiably fearful that any talk of risks will turn parents off to vaccinations.