Sunday, January 3, 2010 says nannies who get flu shots may have an edge in the job market

Click here to see the article on today explaining it's hard for parents to find nannies that have had the H1N1 flu vaccination. Just a portion of the article is sampled below.

Many refuse -- some out of fear -- and that can cause a rift between caregivers and the families that employ them.

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
January 3, 2010

About three months ago, Samantha Slattery approached her nanny about getting the H1N1 flu vaccine. Slattery, 33, of Topanga, had a 5-month-old daughter and 2-year-old son. The baby was too little to be vaccinated, and Slattery wanted to avoid vaccinating her son.

But nanny Blanca Duarte refused. Duarte, 47, said she was afraid the vaccine would make her sick; she had gotten ill after a flu vaccination years before.

"For three weeks I could not work," Duarte said. "After that, I said no more."

She also worried about side effects. She said her teenage daughter had heard rumors at Crenshaw High that the vaccine makes you sterile. And she said her family doctor did not even have the vaccine in stock.

For many parents and caregivers, reaching agreement about flu vaccines has proved impossible, even amid initial fears that the H1N1 pandemic could prove more dangerous than seasonal flu.

New parents are particularly concerned, because babies younger than 6 months -- too young for vaccination -- are considered among those most at risk for serious complications.

This month is a peak hiring season for nannies nationwide as families return from holiday vacations and new mothers go back to work, according to officials from major nanny placement agencies.

Some nannies are trying to get an edge in the tough economy by advertising themselves as having received the H1N1 vaccine. But many others refuse vaccinations, parents and doctors say, because they are concerned about rumored side effects or unable to get access to the vaccine because of shortages.

In recent weeks, online message boards have filled as parents struggle to persuade nannies to be vaccinated, fire nannies who refuse and screen new applicants.

"Ugh! I am so frustrated right now that I could explode," the mother of a premature baby girl wrote on "I have been interviewing potential nannies for the past several weeks. I finally found one that I was feeling confident that I would like to hire, I called to get more info for reference check and also I had forgot to ask if they were OK with getting both flu and swine vaccine this year. The response was no."

"I can't make her do it," another parent wrote on "I offered to pay. If she doesn't want to, she doesn't want to."

Mothers in West Los Angeles and New York City are calling agencies to ask how to broach the subject of vaccination with their nannies, said Claudia Kahn, owner and founder of the Help Company in Santa Monica, which serves families in both Los Angeles and New York.

To read the rest of the article please click here.
Copyright © 2010,
The Los Angeles Times

Have you had flu shot? Did the parents ask you to get the flu shot? Did they pay for the flu shot?


AuPairDebbie said...

I understand the rationalization that you might be more marketable if you get the flu shot, but I doubt anyone is getting fired if they don't get it.

I personally have been waiting for my employers to bring it up. I would get it happily but I will ask for them to pay for it.

The mother is pregnant also so I don't know why they haven't asked me. Probably she doesn't want to be rude and has same concerns others mentioned in the article.

Also I leave this job in a few months maybe she doesn't want to waste money?

Cindy W said...

I am a nanny for a toddler and the family is expecting another baby soon. They are physicians and request each yr that I get a flu shot. This yr I also got the H1N1 shot. It is covered by my insurance so that is not an issue. It is each nanny's right to choose if she feels comfortable getting a flu shot. But,if a nanny does not get a flu shot, hopefully she is responsible in staying home from work if she experiences any flu like symptoms, thus not exposing her young charges.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting concept that having the shot is good marketing. This site mentioned BEFORE there was a vaccine last Spring that nannies can't be expected to work when kids have the H1N1. Obviously if nannies get the shot they could work with the sick children.

But the issue of the pregnant mom is good since my boss is expecting this month. I never thought of it as a way to protect her as well. If they ask me to get it I certainly will.

Meredith in Colorado Springs

Anonymous said...

I did not get one this year but I always state that if employer wants/requests then they pay for it.

Anonymous said...

I had the flu shot. I paid for it. Didn't even think to ask employers to pay for it. Better question: how many nannies have health insurance because if the employers pay your health insurance then they are paying for your flu shot.

Maryanne Metropolitan Area Arizona

Anonymous said...

To Blanca in the article: the flu shot won't get you sick.

But parents need to get themselves the shot, not worry about their nanny. If nanny is stupid to turn it down let her suffer the illness herself.

From 20,000 flu last year to 70,000 this year and not get the vaccine is insane.

Best point made is "Relationships between mothers and nannies can be fraught with unspoken tension about terms of employment and parenting, said Lindsay Heller, a psychologist and former nanny."

If the parents ask just get it. Ask them to pay and sniff in the stuff in less than a second.

Just get the dumb nasal mist. Everyone is getting it. Better than have pregnant mom and her unborn to die from catching the virus.

Anonymous said...

I often wonder about articles like this because it seems odd that parents and nannies would actually be telling the agencies about this topic. I just doubt many families are actually discussing this with their agency owners and the agency owners make up nice quotes to get media exposure. Sorry, but I really feel this way.

I never knew this was this peak hiring season?

Questioning Nanny
Chappaqua NY

Anonymous said...

Would any of you really say no if parents asked you to be vaccinated? Seems odd not to just do it.

Olivia R.
16 Yrs Nanny Exp
Beachwood OH

Fiona Littleton said...

I am surprised too to read in the article that parents on chat groups are having trouble finding caregivers willing to have vaccine.

Maybe the problem is unemployed nannies have not gotten the vaccine because they aren't working and it costs money.

Nannies who are working can have the parents pay and it shouldn't be a problem.

Ignorance is probably why they think they will get sick, unless they have other illnesses of course.

lovebeingananny said...

I have not had the flu shot but would be more than happy to do so. I guess finding time to get to the doctor is simply why I haven't. I certainly will if the parents ask me to.

Anonymous said...

Are they suggesting we put "H1N1 vaccinated" on our resumes?

Anonymous said...

I can't have one so I just wash my hands and try not to worry about it.

Anonymous said...

I think it's kind of shady for a parent to think that vaccines are too dangerous/risky for me and my children, but the nanny should get one to help protect the children from this or that illness.

Best Nanny Newsletter said...

It is just interesting how the childcare industry works. For nannies it has always been smart to be CPR/First Aid certified and able to drive. To think we ought to add H1N1 vaccinated to our resumes is certainly interesting. We know healthcare professionals should be vaccinated. Makes sense it would extend to childcare professionals.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the parents are being 'SHADY' at all. If a baby is too young to get vaccinated, or any adult or child has a medical condition not allowing them to be vaccinated they are not being shady.

I think the article points out how difficult it is for parents and nannies to communicate at times.

Anyway, back to work. Happy New Year!

Susan, Nanny
H1N1 Vaccinated
7 Yrs Exp
Charleston SC

Anonymous said...

I think the parents should be able to ask the nanny to get the vaccine if they are working in their home. I completely understand about civil rights and labor laws. But, we allow parents to pay for drug tests for new nannies. I think the nanny should be able to get a generic note from a doctor explaining that the nanny can't have the vaccination, without exposing her private medical history.
Ridgewood NJ

Lisa said...

I agree with a point that was made about employers providing you with health insurance and then asking you to get it.

I got the shot because of my bosses and my charge's dr. suggesting it. And, my bosses do pay part of my health insurance. I am given sick days so if I did have a reaction to it, then I am covered.