Pay no attention to that safer vaccine behind the curtain

So I took the kids to get their flu shots yesterday, and it sucked.

The End.

Seriously, need I say more? I mean, if you’ve ever had to take your kids to get a flu shot — or any shot, for that matter — you know the deal: shot = sucks.

The End.

But, of course, that’s not The End, is it? No, certainly not … for I must entertain and astound you, and, with any luck, make you regurgitate your beverage through your nose.

So …

When Wonder Woman informed me that she had a work commitment Wednesday evening, and that I’d have to take the children to their flu-shot appointment (smack dab in the middle of rush hour, no less), I braced for the worst.

And, god, what a great story it would make if I could tell you that both kids screamed bloody murder and had to be physically restrained in order for the nurse to administer the shots … but, the fact of the matter is, that would be untrue.

In reality, only Jayna screamed bloody murder and had to be physically restrained in order for the nurse to administer the shot … and, in her defense, she didn’t scream for all that long, and she didn’t actually need to be “physically restrained” so much as she needed to be “held firmly” while I kept her left arm exposed and shielded her eyes from the sight of the sharp, painful, monstrously large metal spike as it was driven into her flesh.

No, seriously, the needle? WAY larger than what I was expecting. I was taken aback, because I had assumed that the needle was going to be one of those short, whisper-thin jobbers like I’ve seen used for other vaccines, but apparently the flu vaccine has to be delivered via a hollowed-out railroad spike.

Wanna hear what an awesome big brother Zan is? As soon as we broke the news to the kids that they had to go with me to get their flu shots, he tried to comfort and reassure his sister by telling her that he was excited about going to get his shot. He repeated this in the car, and upon arrival at the doctor’s office, and then got his shot first so that he could show her that it was no big deal … which impressed the hell out of me, because, I’m telling you: railroad spike … and he didn’t flinch or make a peep.

So, the actual administering of the shots doesn’t make for much of a story. The kids really did great.

What does make for a good story, however, is this:

Upon checking in at the front desk, and confirming with the receptionist that, yes, we were there for the kids’ flu shots, I was given a two-sided handout titled “Inactivated Influenza Vaccine: What You Need to Know.” Well, shit, I better read that, right?

So I read it, and 90% of it was run-of-the-mill stuff I’ve heard and read before … but what I had neither heard nor read before was this paragraph:

Some inactivated influenza vaccine contains a preservative called thimerosal. Some people have suggested that thimerosal may be related to developmental problems in children. In 2004, the Institute of Medicine reviewed many studies looking into this theory and concluded that there is no evidence of such a relationship. Thimerosal-free influenza vaccine is available. [Editor’s note: emphasis mine.]

Um, OK. Let’s see if I understand: The thimerosal-infused vaccine is safe — so safe, in fact, that there’s really no need whatsoever for your children to receive the quite-possibly-even-safer thimerosal-free vaccine, and never mind the fact that our entire premise seems completely fucked, because, like, why bother making a thimerosal-free vaccine if thimerosal is perfectly safe, and why spend 47 words telling you just how perfectly safe it is, only to follow those 47 words with the offer of a thimerosal-free alternative?

“Should I be asking you to give them the thimerosal-free vaccine?” I asked the 50-something, short-haired nurse, who looked way too peppy and gleeful and insincere as she placed on the table next to Zan a tray holding two syringes chock full of thimerosal.

“Oh, no, it’s perfectly safe … and we only have a limited supply of the thimerosal-free kind; I’m not even sure if we have any left.”

“Oh, OK. It’s just that, in light of the apparent controversy —”

“A totally unfounded controversy.”

“Right, but —”

And that’s when Jayna started in with the screaming and crying, and I tried to calm her so that I could finish my thimerosal inquisition, but the nurse apparently realized that I wasn’t just going to let it go, so she said, “I’ll go check and see if we have any left,” and she seemed none too thrilled about the inconvenience I had caused her, and I so didn’t give a shit.

A moment later, she returned with two new syringes and said, “OK, you got the last two!,” and the way she said it seemed kinda snooty, as though she was in fact saying, “OK, you pain-in-the-ass, hypochondriacal parent, your kids will now get the only thimerosal-free influenza vaccines we have left, thereby denying other, more-worthy children of that privilege!,” and this is me still so not giving a shit that she apparently was annoyed that I chose to advocate for something as petty as my children’s health and welfare.

And so the shots were administered, and my thimerosal-free children and I drove home, and we didn’t even get stuck in traffic. How ’bout that.

The End.

PS: Is it just me, or does the fact that it’s mid-September and our pediatrician’s office already has used up all of its thimerosal-free vaccines, but still has thimerosal-infused vaccines aplenty, seem to indicate that I’m not the only one who thought it would be best to say “Hold the thimerosal”?

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31 Comments

  1. Posted September 18, 2009 at 4:21 am | Permalink

    Are you sure she didn’t just stand out side the room count to ten and come back in with the same needles? Just saying it’s kinda like ordering decaf coffee at 9 pm and telling the waiter please make sure it’s decaf and him in the kitchen make me a double cafe espresso!

  2. Posted September 18, 2009 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Good On Ya, Bro! Doesn’t that phoney pleasantness make you just want to pee on her shoe? In ten years, she’ll forget an inconvenient afternoon, but your developmentally-uninhibited kids will know they have a powerful advocate! Besides, every chemical & additive has ping-ponged between “Experts are concrened..” and “Studies show no adverse side effects…”, so whatever promotional pamphlet she’s read will be different next year!
    Cheers!
    Will
    .-= Will´s last blog ..Three More Sleeps! =-.

  3. Posted September 18, 2009 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    NOOOOOOOO!!!! I just did a post on this a few weeks ago!!! Had I known, I could’ve shared this valuable information with you! WHAT ABOUT THE FLU MIST? The most ingenious invention ever — all your child has to do is be able to sniff. Up the nose it goes! You almost feel like there should be blankets and dim lights and some Grateful Dead playing in the background, but oh it saves on so much drama. Maybe not as exciting for a blog post, but has got to add a few years back to your life. Now I want to know why I can’t get one.

  4. Posted September 18, 2009 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    I did the same thing with my girls! Why not just buy up only thimerosal-free vaccines that way the “stupid” parents will stop asking so many questions?
    .-= Katie´s last blog ..Epcot =-.

  5. Posted September 18, 2009 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    wow, thanks for this.. I’ll be sure to note this when I go in for our flu shots. Because today’s “unfounded controversy” is tomorrow’s “oh we’re so sorry to tell you this but we were wrong and at any minute your children will sprout a fifth limb.”
    .-= Americas Next Top Mommy´s last blog ..A Bad Start =-.

  6. Lopez
    Posted September 18, 2009 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Interesting…I just scheduled a dr’s appt for my 18 month old and will ask about this option.

  7. Posted September 18, 2009 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Well, they make it without pterosaurs because that’s what people want. No admission of guilt. It’s the same deal with SIGG water bottles. Their old liner contained BPA, but it was laboratory-certified to be 100% free from leaching, 100% safe. People being people, that wasn’t good enough, and so SIGG rolled their collective eyes and said fine, we’ll switch to a BPA-free liner, but we still think you’re dumb.

    My opinion? I pick the product with fewer ingredients. Either they’re bad for you or they’re harmless, but if you don’t need them, don’t add them to the recipe.

    I might ask what they’re using instead, though.
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..Someone here is gettin’ old =-.

  8. Olivia
    Posted September 18, 2009 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    And that is exactly why I save myself that entire day of nonsense by not having my kids get a flu shot. How many times, in the last eight years, have my “unvaccinated” children gotten a serious case of the flu??

    Never.

  9. Summer
    Posted September 18, 2009 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    I don’t understand. Why are you people getting flu shots for your kids? Are they not otherwise healthy? Due to some ongoing medical issue, is their immune system compromised?? If not, why bother putting them through all that? I have 4 children who are of good health. I make sure they eat well balanced meals and get plenty of rest and exercise. I have NEVER had them get the flu shot and they have NEVER gotten it. I think too many parents want the “quick fix”, a pill, shot or whatever to make it all go away and make them (or their kids) supposedly feel better. Try letting the body heal itself. It just might do your kids some good. And save them the pain of yet another unnecessary shot in the arm.

  10. Maggie, living in Bliss
    Posted September 18, 2009 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I don’t like this flu shot business this year. Hopefully, I’m a paranoid, conspiracy-believing, crazy-assed moron, and nothing is wrong. However, be that as it may, I’m still not getting a flu shot this year.

    You know that little voice in your head that talks to you? The one that says things like ‘Oh, go ahead. Eat another piece of pie. It won’t hurt you’.

    Oh now, shut up! I KNOW everyone knows what I’m talking about.

    Anyway, that little voice keeps telling me to stay away from it. And, for the record, I always get a flu shot. Every stinkin’ year. Pneumonia shot every couple of years, too.

    But, not this year. This year is too Stephen King-like for me.

  11. Posted September 18, 2009 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    –>I’m taking my almost 3-year old in on Monday to get the Flu Mist. He’ll sniff it in and no railroad spike at all.
    Here is more information on the flu and children. http://www.chkd.org/flu
    .-= WebSavyMom´s last blog ..Flashback Friday (part 32) – Strike a Pose =-.

  12. Posted September 18, 2009 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    It’s like when they say the lower fat or lower sodium version tastes just like the real thing. Well, why not make it as healthy for you as possible?

    Oh, because we use this cancer-causing agent to remove 33% of the sugar and still have the same taste. Oh ok, thanks. Seriously though, everything causes cancer now anyway. Might as well go anything-free if you can.

    And I love when people get all pissed when you’re asking them to do their job. Hilarious.
    .-= Joe´s last blog ..Life Soundtracks =-.

  13. Alexi
    Posted September 18, 2009 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Ok, me and my sister got flu shots every year except last year, and last year my sister got a vicious flu strain that put her in the hospital. LOL. Thats luck for you.

  14. Lex
    Posted September 18, 2009 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    While I don’t have kids yet, I do go and get my flu shot every year because I am in close contact with immuno supressed patients (I work at a cancer centre) where they flu could kill them. As well as the fact that I have family members with severe health conditions where they could be just as dangerous to them. It’s an ounce of pervention. But what worries is me is out her in Vancouver, BC, both my neighbor and my brother have H1N1.

    Ever had to take the kids for allergy shots? Now those are railroad spikes! *Shudder*

  15. Posted September 18, 2009 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Uhhhh, sketchy. On the other hand, bravo for Zan! So brave.
    .-= Angry Redhead´s last blog ..A new drinking era =-.

  16. Posted September 18, 2009 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I am a diagnosed Obsessive/Compulsive, so I’ve been there with the whole vaccine thing… after I scrubbed the entire down the doctor’s office with Lysol saturated disposable wipes.
    .-= NathanRising´s last blog ..Lions and Tigers and… Slugs!?!? =-.

  17. Posted September 18, 2009 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    It’s times like this I am glad I am not a parent. There are so many things to be freaked out about!
    .-= Lauren From Texas´s last blog ..My home won’t be appearing on “Divine Design” anytime soon. =-.

  18. Posted September 18, 2009 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    What they’re not telling you is that Thimerosal is MERCURY!!! They won’t put the damn stuff in a thermostat that sits on your wall, but it’s fine in immunizations. And guess what…it’s in MOST OF THEM…yes, even the ones your children are getting as newborns.

    The controversy is Autism, and while plenty of powerful companies out there shovel tons of money for it to be deemed “safe,” why don’t you go talk to the multitudes of parents who are now the parents of autistic children? I’m not saying that Thimerosal is solely responsible for causing autism, but it is part and parcel of the autism spectrum puzzle.

    Every time something is being injected into your children’s bodies, it doesn’t hurt to ask to see the ingredients on the bottle from which the immunization is being drawn.

  19. Julie
    Posted September 18, 2009 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Ok,……. and Lil Daughter had a baby 6 weeks ago. We opted not to have the 20 HOUR OLD BABY immunized against Hep B, a sexually transmitted disease. This is some scary stuff.
    Having a baby changed my life, my religion, my politics. Having a grandchild is going to turn me into an activist. I have more time now;)

  20. Olivia
    Posted September 18, 2009 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    To WebSavyMom: If you were so Web savvy, you would have also provided the readers with the risks of taking the FluMist Vaccine including common side effects such as “cough, runny nose/nasal congestion, irritability, headaches, chills, muscle aches and fever > 100° F.” which are the very symptoms the flu vaccine is supposed to be preventing.

    It has been documented that the live viruses from the vaccine can be shed (and potentially spread into the community) from recipient children for up to 21 days, and even longer from adults. Viral shedding also puts breastfeeding infants at risk if the mother has been given FluMist.

    Read more about FluMist here: http://www.vaclib.org/email/flumist.htm

  21. Posted September 19, 2009 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    K….you were right for demanding the thimerisol free shot! Your gut instinct told you too….and you listened! We (my hubs and I) NEVER get the flu shot. Usually we (including our 4 kids) soar through flu season without ever getting sick, but NOT last year! Last year was miserable! My youngest who was a year and a half at the time got the flu (along with the rest of us). We are ordinarily healthy people. We eat mostly organic, all natural foods. We exercise, etc….. But let me tell you…. my little one had the hardest time bouncing back after getting the flu! In fact he ended up with RSV and pneumonia secondary to the flu! He required several rounds of antibiotics, breathing treatments and 6 weeks total before he returned to his old self! I hope that by vaccinating this year we can spare our kiddos a bit of that unnecessary torture! We will also choose the thimerisol-free vaccine!
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..Fred and the Lizard I Prayed Back to Existence! =-.

  22. Tom
    Posted September 19, 2009 at 3:35 am | Permalink

    Didn’t they tell our mothers that Thalidomide was safe?

  23. Posted September 19, 2009 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Summer: Here’s why:

    Flu could infect half of USA

    The global flu pandemic expected to return to the USA this fall may infect as much as half the U.S. population, flooding hospitals with nearly 2 million patients and causing 30,000 to 90,000 deaths, according to the first official forecast of the scope of the flu season now beginning.

    The report, released Monday by the White House, was prepared by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. It offers the forecast as the most plausible of a range of scenarios that reflect the potential effect of a new form of H1N1 flu, known as swine flu, which the report calls “a serious health threat to the United States.”

    “While this is not the 1918 flu pandemic, it infects younger people more, and serious complications do occur,” says panel Co-chairman Eric Lander, director of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. He warns that infants and children, pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses are at special risk of serious complications.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 2 million people nationwide have been infected with the virus and that 522 have died. Flu experts worry that cases will mount as youngsters return to school and as cold weather drives people indoors. “We think it’s very likely cases will increase,” says David Marens of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

    One of the council’s goals was to use scenarios drawn from experience to identify health concerns and guide the government’s response. The report concludes that the coming flu season will more likely resemble 1957, which killed 70,000 people, or 1968, when 34,000 died. The 1918 pandemic killed hundreds of thousands in the U.S.

    “There’s great uncertainty about what we’re going to be seeing as this develops,” says White House homeland security adviser John Brennan.

    The report calls for the government to intensify efforts to track infections and hospitalizations and to advocate common-sense prevention. Among them: making sure that sick people can get refunds to sporting events and that sick children who rely on school lunches can get them without infecting classmates.

    The science advisers also urge the government to press vaccine makers to speed production by one month by beginning to fill and distribute vials before clinical trials are completed. Without accelerating vaccine production, they say, the first doses may not become available until after the swine flu season peaks. In response, the government has asked manufacturers to put vaccine in vials “as soon as they are ready,” the administration says.

    The report asserts that an influx of flu patients may clog hospital emergency rooms and intensive-care units. “It’s possible that at a time of peak demand, 50% to 100% of ICU beds in an area might be used for influenza cases,” Lander says. “They’re often close to capacity without influenza.”

  24. Posted September 20, 2009 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Seriously impressive disply of parental authority! Good job. I once had a nurse draw up five syringes with seven vaccines in them for my then five year old without even talking to us first. She was totally pissed when I told her that we only wanted 3 of those syringes, and we’d catch up the others later. They hate it when you make them do their work over because they were in too much of a hurry to do it the right way first. Oh and then she didn’t even use proper technique when she administered them. Scary! Parents have to keep their eyes open.
    .-= Stepiphany´s last blog ..The first two weeks =-.

  25. Maggie, living in Bliss
    Posted September 20, 2009 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t they tell our mothers that Thalidomide was safe? – Tom #22

    Yes.

  26. Posted September 22, 2009 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Love this post. We have a 2.5 year old who attends a private school requiring the flu shot or the “flu mist”. And I received a missive at work we are all REQUIRED to have the flu shot as well. Future medical studies notwithstanding… nice. And good job on Zan…our little man will NOT be excited about getting his shot.
    .-= JennyMac´s last blog ..Which wine goes with Jury Duty? =-.

  27. Posted September 22, 2009 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the heads up – my baby girl got the thimerisol FREE version today!
    .-= Teal´s last blog ..Old Things Are Cool =-.

  28. Posted September 23, 2009 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    WOW! I’m so glad you stood up and asked for the thimersol free vaccine. I actually happen to be allergic to it, which I found out years ago when companies used it as a preservative in contact lens solutions. (Turned my eyes bright red and they oozed. Pretty!)

    When the vaccines first came out, I had one at work and they neglected to tell me it contained thimersol. I was so sick I almost wished I had the flu. I would always ask if possible to get any vaccine without this nasty preservative.
    .-= meg´s last blog ..Flashback Oprah =-.

  29. Posted September 23, 2009 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    my husband thinks this whole thing is a government conspiracy to vaccinate our population…
    .-= The Football Wife´s last blog ..This week, last year or Pregnant Forever =-.

  30. Posted October 1, 2009 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    First time visiting and enjoying all your posts…Did you know that it is against the law to give children under 3 and pregnant women thimerosal vaccines in the state of California? If it is so darn safe why has a state outlawed them?

    Good for you for protecting your kids…snooty receptionists should be happy you care. Kim
    .-= the inadvertent farmer´s last blog ..This is My Reality… =-.

  31. CSmith
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    Good for you for asking for the non-mercury vaccine. Did you ask for the inserts to go along with the new needles and make sure it was mercury free?

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