Yesterday, I took my 10 yr old to the doctor for a minor thing. On the way there, I mentioned to her that she would need to get the flu shot we have been delaying. Two of us in the house already got flu shots, two haven’t. It’s too easy to put it off. It’s hard to make yourself go to the pharmacy or clinic to get it done.
She freaked out. She hates needles, she tells me, stemming back to the story I once told her or that she may actually remember. When she was about 5, she got a total of 4 shots in one visit, two in each arm. It’s not the amount of vaccine, it was the stabs with needles. I thought that was too much. She was extremely stressed and I was angry at the doctor, whom I dropped, because that was a bit too much trauma for a toddler. Now she is afraid of needles. We’re over the time where she needs boosters every year. So, flu shots are a chore.
While waiting for the doctor, she BEGGED me to forget it. We could come back when she was ready, we could go someplace else to get it, just not today. Nope, it had to be done. People are dying from the flu and I had been remiss in not attending to this earlier. Her pleas were not going to sway me. But, sadly, my pleas were not swaying her. No matter how I tried to frame it, she would not resign herself to the shot. I told her it was quick, less painful than the bee stings she’d had in the past, and necessary. We all have to get it. One shot and she would be safer for the year, she wouldn’t come down with an illness that would mean days of suffering and discomfort, possibly worse. Nope, nothing could change her mind. She did not grasp the tradeoff at play.
The doctor noticed her panic and crying and asked what was wrong. I told her about the need for the vaccination. The doctor piped up “Oh, well, we have flu mist instead”. Joy erupted across my child’s face. The doctor explained this was a weakened virus, not dead like the vaccine. We all agreed that it would be a good choice since no one in the house was sick and asthma was not an issue.
I think I understand the basis of vaccines pretty well. A few months ago, I completed a free Coursera course on Vaccines taught by Dr. Paul Offit. I learned SO MUCH. I heartily recommend this for all parents and caregivers (when it’s offered again). It’s critical information. It’s also fascinating science, if you are interested. Did I mention FREE? Take advantage of this splendid gift from the world-wide web - a world-class physician expert explaining this to subject to you personally.
So, all is well. The flu mist was administered with smiles and relief. The child had caused me great consternation with her pleas and hyperventilation and threats of puking with fear. She was well on her way to making herself sick with fear and worry about a needle prick that most of us think nothing of. We’ll have to work on getting over that. Vaccinations are a necessary part of life, your whole life. They are one, if not THE, most important advances in medicine ever. I feel privileged to understand their importance and be able to have such access to them. We have a good life, if harrowing at times.