vaccine'd up

I know the topic of whether or not to get the H1N1 vaccine is kind of a hot-button issue. A lot of parents are opting to skip it. I honestly don’t understand why, but my view on this issue is skewed. Catie’s asthma is severe enough that a bad cold can land us in the ER (and it has, twice). The thought of her getting the flu scares the bejeezus out of me. I don’t even want to try to think about how awful that would be.

Honestly, I don’t know if I would still feel strongly in favor of the H1N1 vaccine if Catie didn’t have a chronic respiratory illness. But there have been 86 children that have died from H1N1 this year so far. Sure, statistically that’s a very small number, but it’s still 86 too many. I can’t imagine what those parents are going through, but I imagine that if they could reverse time and get their children a vaccine that would prevent them from getting sick, they would. I also don’t know the conditions behind those deaths, if those children had other contributing factors that compromised their immune systems. But I know my kid, I know how her little lungs are not prepared for a severe flu, and I’m taking every imaginable step to prevent that from happening.

The problem is that no one seems to have the H1N1 vaccine. Anywhere. I saw on the local news this weekend that our county’s health department received 3000 doses, and that they’d open their clinics to give the H1N1 vaccine on Monday morning at 9 a.m. So today we got up early and drove to our nearest clinic (a good 30 minutes away) to be there when they opened. (Note: there are four different clinics in our county. I thought odds were good that the clinic we went to would be less crowded since it wasn’t the one in downtown Raleigh.) Clearly, we were not the only people who had that idea. There were literally hundreds of people there. The line wrapped around the building and down the block.

line at the health department
The best picture I could get. Doesn’t even begin to show just how many people were there.

Catie and I waited – and the line didn’t move at all – for about 10 minutes. Then I thought, hmm, I wonder about her pediatrician’s office? I had called them on Friday and they didn’t have the H1N1 vaccine, but if the health departments got a shipment over the weekend, maybe the private practices did too? (And also: why didn’t I think to call them before we left the house?)

I grabbed my cell phone & called, and the nurse said that they have “a limited supply for high-risk patients.” I said, “I have a two year-old with asthma, does that count?” She said yes, and asked if I could come right then. I said yes, and quickly got out of the mile-long health department line.

So, back into the car for the 30-minute drive back to town (thank goodness we were in Dave’s car so Catie could watch the Wiggles on the DVD player; I heard nary a peep of objection during all of this back-and-forth driving). Since we only had to see the nurse and not the doctor, they got us in and out of there in no time. We went ahead and got both the seasonal flu shot & the H1N1 (she’ll need a second dose of the H1N1 in a month). The shots were awful, of course. I had told Catie that the nurse was going to give her medicine so she wouldn’t get sick, but you know, a needle is a needle. She screamed and cried, until they whipped out the magic lollipop reward, then she was all happy and smiles again.

She hasn’t shown any signs of side effects so far, and I hope it stays that way. Now it’s just up to Dave and me to get our shots (Dave’s afraid of needles, so I’ll probably only be able to coerce him into the nasal mist kind). Because really? I do not need a repeat of last year’s trip to the hospital. In fact, if I could stay away from pediatric ERs for the rest of my life, that’d be fine with me.