A substitute school nurse this fall, I still found myself coordinating a flu clinic of all things today....a thing substitutes usually would run screaming from in the opposite direction for its sheer definition of a commitment to mankind--something subs shun in principle. It seemed a logistical nightmare to safely get 200 plus children immunized against H1N1 without parents bearing torches clamoring at the doors for one reason or another.
"You gave my child immunization!"
"You didn't give my child immunization!"
No winning in the public health arena. There's no trying.
We excluded a few children unnecessarily due to bad paperwork and I dreaded a bit about how those parents might feel when they would receive the letter after school saying their kid had not been immunized due to our error....and then... to see the public health nurse coordinator return for the uncollected forms armed with several extra vaccines. The last few children were immunized and everybody went home bolstered, or boostered in this case without incident. Sweet victory.
Notwithstanding how needlephobic I am personally (I can give 'em, I just don't like to get 'em), I acknowledge vaccines save lives. I made a pact with my maker a long time ago to shut my eyes and hug my kids as they each got jabbed for the vaccine du jour each time we headed to the pediatrician. No bad outcomes for us luckily. I refuse to overthink it.
I heard once from a well established immunologist that a lick from a dog had more inoculation of virus than any immunization and I chose to believe the words. I had seen a nauseating amount of babies licked head to toe by a family dog as an unblinking family looked on. As a nurse, I've also seen the effects of congenital rubella, PID, meningococcal meningitis and encephalitis secondary to chicken pox. Nuff said.
Risk in much of what we do can have untold benefit. Stock market, real estate, slot machines, love, immunization.
I got my H1N1 today too. It made me feel funny. I sat at the table with the last batch of second and third graders who received the vaccine and announced I also had received the vaccine. We agreed it felt funny in our throats and gave us headaches and made us feel weird. We acknowledged it might be just in our heads. The kids seemed delighted that at least one adult in the building had also received the vaccination they had. Kids often trust and accept that stuff we do to them we never would do to ourselves. So I was a novelty act at the observation table.
I sat down and they promptly made me read to them about kangaroos, as kids do. We were in it together and I hadn't felt that kind of cameraderie in a long while.
Here's to these new dads, my niece the tinier of the two, and their many years of decisions around parenting from immunization to dating.