I've been interested in watching how the H1N1 pandemic has played out in the months since it was first identified in Mexico. Part of my interest has been seeing how the Governments throughout the world handle this issue. Part of my interest has been on a much more local level. By local, I mean my family.
I did not expect the effort to vaccinate large numbers of people over a relatively short period of time to go well, and therefore I am not surprised at the results we are seeing. What is surprising to me is the vast differences in distribution from state to state and even county to county. There are people down south that not only have been able to get their children vaccinated, they have been able to get their booster doses as well. In addition, some people who are not in the high risk group have been able to get their vaccinations. Meanwhile, I wasn't even able to get information about the vaccination in Pennsylvania until about a week ago. I asked the pediatrician, my pharmacist, even my Gyn. No one knew anything.
I've been checking the web every few days for updates and spent a lot of time being pointed from local health department websites to state websites and back to the local sites. It was frustrating, but if nothing else, I am persistent. Finally, last week the county health department started posting information about H1N1 walk-in clinics. None of them were close and the timing was really bad for me. Plus, the thought of standing in line with Michael for three hours pretty much sounds like hell on earth. So, I decided to call the department of health and see if we could go there. I thought it was unlikely, but hey, it's worth the phone call.
Much to my surprise, they had several open appointments for this past Monday. I was so surprised I'm sure I sounded like an idiot when she asked me what time I would like to come in. I picked the best time and enjoyed my success for all of two seconds before it hit me. I was going to have to take Michael to a building I've never been to before, locate the clinic within the massive building, and manage to control Michael long enough to allow someone to give him a shot. Since that didn't go well with the seasonal shot this year, I started worrying about how poorly this adventure could go. I had mental imagines of Andy and I holding him down while he kicked and screamed (you know, like he did when getting his stitches removed). I pictured us roaming around the building, lost, while Michael kicked and screamed. All of the worst case scenarios were running through my mind.
I decided to go with some serious planning. I asked Andy to go with me. I drove by the building 3 times so I could locate parking and the building's entrance. And most of all, I didn't tell Michael what was coming. I normally like to prepare Michael ahead of time, but I figured this was not the right time to do that.
Basically, I planned for the worst. I tried to hope for the best, but I really couldn't imagine that we would get away without at least one tantrum.
Guess what? I got the best. The whole event was a complete non-issue. I found parking right out front. The building was clearly marked with big yellow arrows leading to the clinic. The clinic was well run by pleasant and organized woman. They even had the flu mist version, so Michael didn't even get a needle. We were in and out in 30 minutes. It was great.
Now, I'm on a quest to get my mom and I both vaccinated.
I'm not going to pass judgment on how poorly this vaccination effort has been handled. A lot of people have done wonderful work in getting as many people vaccinated as possible. But, this is not the kind of situation that can be managed through personal heroics. I hope our government and citizens recognize that one of these days we will be staring in the face of an even more serious pandemic and that to prevent significant loss of life we need better planning, funding and technology. Let's take this opportunity to make the necessary improvements.