I don’t think I have ever had the flu, at least not in adulthood. I get maybe two colds a year, both corresponding to sudden changes in temperature and that’s about it. There was that nasty sinus infection on a five-flight bender back from Australia, but I blame recirculated cabin air on that one. Even so, stories of raging flu viruses hunting like vampire bats for new victims just didn’t really impress me. I figured that if I did manage to catch something I would be out for the count for a few days and then rejoin the living.
Almost immediately, I was told by various and assorted organizations with impressive sounding names that I had to get the H1N1 vaccine as soon as it was available. Just because they said so, though, didn’t exactly make up my mind since I’m no longer just deciding for myself. Someone else is going to be directly affected by my decision. On the one hand, you have the stories of pregnant ladies dying at rates higher than their representation in the population from H1N1 or having severe complications including miscarriage. On the other hand, you have the nagging little voice in your head arguing against introducing anything in your body other than what is already been obsessively thought through and approved. Even my OB was initially skeptical about whether or not to get the vaccine.
But, this was back in September before the vaccine was even ready, so I figured I have some time to think about it. Right around the time that the vaccine was supposed to become available, I decided that I was more worried about what swine flu could do to me or to Little B than I was about what the vaccine could do. I decided to get the vaccine.
That was the hard part, right? Um, no. What turned out to be the hardest step was actually finding the damn vaccine.
Naive little me, though, I first called my maternal fetal medicine specialist and innocently asked if they had some H1N1 vaccine. The answer: no. Do you know when you’ll be getting some? No. Do you know who does have it? No. Ok, I thought, I’ll just call the health department and see if they have any information. I ended up speaking with the most clueless man ever, more no’s and not a few ‘um’s thrown in for good measure and I still had no answers. I was beginning to get really annoyed now. I’m in the highest priority group. I have the CDC and every major news outlet telling me that I. Must. Be. Vaccinated. NOW. and yet, I was hitting the worst roadblock of them all – no one had the vaccine.
I asked my OB’s office if they knew where I could score and they were just as frustrated as I was. I left with promises to let them know if I was able to get my hands on it and asked that they return the favor if need be. I called my general practitioner. No dice. I called the private run emergency clinics all around town and managed to get on a list of those waiting to be vaccinated with some vague promise of the future.
And, I finally resigned myself to waiting. Waiting to either get the damn vaccine or get the damn flu. I started avoiding anyone who coughed, especially children, and considered foregoing certain events that would have large groups of people. I made Mr. X paranoid enough that he was going to give it to me that he’s becoming a handwashing savant. I should buy stock in hand sanitizer because I now have containers in my office, the kitchen, the car and my purse.
Then, this morning, a call. The clinic where I had my name on the waiting list for the vaccine didn’t have it but one of their sister clinics (which was actually nearer to me) did. I could have kissed that man through the phone. I gathered myself and the belly and headed in search for my own little piece of vaccine. I brought a book because I was expecting the Soviet-style line for precious commodities. But, I arrived to a relatively empty parking lot and an even more empty waiting room. I’m here for the H1N1 vaccine I said, and was told about the priority groups at which point I uncovered my secret weapon: the Belly! I had to fill out the requisite paperwork and swiftly was ushered back into a waiting room. And, there it was – the Holy Grail I had been seeking for all these many weeks. After so much drama, it all came down to this tiny little room with a nurse who obviously did not appreciate the lengths I have gone to get this because she was rather unimpressed with the task that she had been given. 10 minutes from door to needle and I was done.
In the end, the denoument to my quest was anticlimactic, but I can now move on to the next worry. I would now like to ask all major media outlets and government agencies to stop telling me that I need to get the vaccine. Been there, done that, got the sore arm.