Friday, November 20, 2009

H1N1 vaccinations: More fun than you can shake your fist at

So getting out of the way the whole Should I? Shouldn't I? part -- we have a toddler and an infant and I already personally know one kid who's gotten swine flu, and I'd rather risk side effects from the shot than side effects (or any effects) from the virus. But hey, you want to fret about government conspiracies, that is of course your call.

I got kiddo and me into a clinic for high-risk groups a few hours before registration closed out entirely. It ran 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., and no you could not register for a specific time, what do you think this is, a haircut?

So we waited on line. And waited on line. And some more. And genius me for bringing the stroller, because I could stash our coats in the storage bin and have something to lean on while also keeping maniac kiddo contained in one spot instead of chasing him all over the room. You anti-stroller people, you have no idea how much they simplify our lives. At least I apologize when I accidentally run over your toe.

We moved from one line to a room where I had to fill out forms providing essentially the same information I'd already provided on the printouts from the registration. And then to another line, in which we discovered that they were going alphabetically by last name and I possess the most common first letter in the alphabet. Occasionally a guy walked back down the line calling out, "Any Ds? Any Fs?" I thought maybe we'd be getting a seating chart and a syllabus next.

Kiddo was putting up with all this remarkably well because he had a granola bar and my iPod. There's one episode of "Sesame Street" on it I just keep showing him over and over, and whenever he sees the iPod he says, "See Elmo!" Somehow he figured out where the earbuds go, though I've never showed him that, and he sat there playing with the clickwheel and listening to my music. I hope he didn't find the Metallica.

We got to the front (!) of the alphabet line and found out that we had to go to the "verification room" because kiddo got his regular flu shot last month and they were, I dunno, afraid he might explode or something. So we went to that room and waited on another line to be told that he's good to go, and we should go down the hall where there is -- wait for it -- another line for kids under 36 months.

We got there and there were two lines leading through double doors into a bigger room, and the nice lady who was trying to direct me started to bring me in front of the double doors, in between the two other lines. Another worker tried to stop me, assuming I guess that I was a line-jumper, and after I had a minor hissy and explained that I was following someone, he let me pass without a password or anything. And then I stood there at the front, on no particular line, waiting for I knew not what until the first worker beckoned me into one corner of the next room, which was apparently the kiddie corner.

They had quite the assembly-line operation going. Haul the kid onto a table, yank his pants down, stick him quickly, shove him off on his parent while he's screaming. Next!

I wheeled still-crying kiddo to a quiet spot against the wall and brought out my secret weapon: A fun-size Butterfinger. "Want some chocolate?" I wheedled. Kiddo stopped crying, perked right up and attacked it. Leftover Halloween candy, I love you.

The chocolate perked him up so much, in fact, that he was calm and happy while I got my shot and while we waited the required 15 minutes after to make sure neither of us had a reaction. There were rows of folding chairs set up at the other end of the room so all the recently stuck could wait together. Kiddo hung out in the stroller while I texted DH and we had another round of granola bars (it being past dinnertime). He was so calm, in fact, that the grandma next to us scolded her weeping little girl: "Look at that little boy, see how happy he is?" Oh, silly grandma, where's your chocolate?

And we're done. Except that kiddo needs two shots on account of his age. Can't wait to do this all again in a month, assuming of course there's any vaccine left.

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