A Mother's Experience in Getting her Kids the H1N1 Vaccine
Nov 17, 2009

Guest Blog post by Laura E. Scott, Executive Director of Families Fighting Flu
After almost daily calls for the past two months to our pediatrician’s office, the Virginia Department of Health, and Arlington County Public Health Division asking when the H1N1 vaccine was going to become available in our area, I was elated last Thursday when I received an e-mail that listed the first H1N1 flu vaccination clinic for priority groups at our local community center for this past Saturday.  Both of my children fall into a priority group as my oldest daughter, Lauren (who is 4½ years old) has asthma and my youngest daughter, Claire, is two years old.  As determined as I was to get my daughters vaccinated, I was dreading the thought of having to stand in a long line for hours on end on Saturday – in the cold rain.  But, as someone who understands and knows how serious the flu can be, particularly in children, there was nothing that was going to stop me from getting my kids vaccinated.  I mentioned the clinic to my husband that evening, who had also read about it online and he said that he was going to camp out in front of the community center at 6am on Saturday to be one of the first in line when the clinic opens at 9am (I didn’t even have to ask him to do this!).  I naively said to him, “You really think you need to get there that early?”  And mind you, this is coming from someone who lives and breathes the influenza world as if I thought perhaps it would be different in our community.  Well, it’s a good thing he got there when he did because at 6am he was about the 10th person in line.  By 8:30am when the girls and I arrived the line was wrapped around the very large building and down the street.  It was unbelievable!  But a part of me actually got a little emotional as I walked with my kids to the front of the line to meet my husband; I was very proud to see so many dedicated parents lined up and waiting patiently – all to get their kids vaccinated against the flu.  I thought to myself, maybe this year will be the turning point when many more parents finally start to understand how serious the flu can be and why vaccination is so important – every year.  All you have to do is go to www.familiesfightingflu.org to read about parents who have lost a child to influenza to quickly realize that there’s no better protection for your child than the influenza vaccine.
After listening to Lauren whine for 30 minutes about not wanting to get vaccinated, it was time for us to move out of the cold rain and inside the warm building to begin the process.  From the moment I stepped inside, I couldn’t have been more impressed with the entire system that the Arlington County Public Health Division had in place.  There were greeters at the front door with friendly smiles who very nicely led us to a room where we filled out consent forms.  After the forms were completed, we were then led into a large gymnasium where there must have been at least 20 different vaccination stations set up.  We immediately went to a station where there were welcoming nurses ready to vaccinate our girls.  Lauren had decided while waiting outside that she would get vaccinated first so that she could show her little sister how brave she was.  Well, things quickly took a turn for the worse and Lauren decided to have a major meltdown as we approached the vaccination table.  So, it was determined very quickly that Claire would go first.  Claire bravely got the shot with barely a whimper.  Lauren, on the other hand, gave a good fight and tried very hard to exit the gymnasium without getting a shot, but with two determined parents and three experienced nurses to hold her down, she successfully got vaccinated.  It was not a proud moment for me; actually, it was a little humiliating, but as we gathered our belongings and walked out of the gymnasium, I was comforted, in an odd way, by the chorus of crying coming from other children behind me.
As we sat in the “holding area” for about 15 minutes to make sure the girls did not have any reaction to the vaccine (which they had none), Lauren tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Mommy, I’m glad I got my flu shot so I will stay healthy.”   I looked at her with a smile and said, “I am too.”  Little does she know how much relief I feel now that she and her sister have been vaccinated – even though they’re not fully immunized yet, I am comforted in knowing they at least have a little protection now from this very serious virus.
In about 28 days (hopefully) we get to do it all over again for the boosters!

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