Saturday, November 21, 2009

flu shots

I got my flu shots this week.

1) Seasonal Flu Shot
My employer arranges for flu shots every year. On Thursday I went to City Hall, where Council Chambers has been transformed into an immunization clinic. A mega-jumbo syringe was on display, labeled "to be used for Mayor Corrigan only." There was no lineup, and I was in and out in five minutes. The City had planned to provide H1N1 shots at the same clinic, but eligibility was still restricted so I received the seasonal shot only (all of the other flu strains, but not H1N1).

2) H1N1 Flu Shot
The very next day, H1N1 immunization eligibility opened up to anyone who wanted it. So today I found a clinic online and attended. It was at the Poirier Rec Centre in Coquitlam, from 9am-3pm. When I arrived at 9:05, a long lineup snaked around the outside of the building. It was cold, but undercover, and seemed to be moving forward periodically. I was not in a hurry to be anywhere, so I stayed. Luckily, I had my iPod with me, so Dan Mangan kept me smiling and provided the 45 minute soundtrack to the outdoor waiting portion of my visit. Luckily also, the outdoor lineup was under cover. While we stood in the cold and damp, a deluge of sleet pounded down.

In the lineup, I saw people of all ages, lots of multi-generation families and all kinds of ethnicities. It seems like everyone wants to be safe from the virus. For a little while, a girl about 15 months old entertained us with her interpretive dance expression of healthy immunity. As new people arrived, their brows furrowed at the lineup, but most stayed, and the line didn't seem to grow any longer after I arrived.

Before 10am, I was indoors, holding a number and a piece of paper onto which I was instructed to print my name, phone number and birthdate. A nurse screened people in the lineup for health issues, and ensured that the children present were with their parents (you can't take someone else's kid to the flu clinic). A volunteer handed out pens, and ferried very elderly and infirm people to a place where they could sit down to wait their turn. I saw two security guards who seemed calm and friendly. At one point a police officer came in and looked around. A pretty mellow vibe prevailed, so he left pretty quickly.

I spent about 30 minutes more, waiting indoors. By this time, the little dancer girl had tired of waiting and alternated between running and laughing and crying to leave. Her mom managed amazingly well, and everyone around offered supportive comments and smiles. The tot was noisy but adorably cute, and probably expressing all of the emotions that were running through our adult minds, only it's not acceptable for grownups to run, laugh, scream and cry while waiting to be immunized against a pandemic virus.

In the big room, about 15 nurses were administering flu jabs. Families went up together and stood around for support as each member received the vaccine. I went up by myself, so my visit with the nurse took only about 5 minutes. I got my shot in the same arm that received the seasonal jab on Thursday. I've heard that the H1N1 shot makes your arm more sore than the other shot does. We'll see. I've been lifting weights this week at the gym, so I'm guessing the flu shots will hardly make a noticeable difference.

We were all instructed to wait for 15 minutes before leaving. Little dancer girl was eating dried cranberries and cheese crackers, and looking much happier than when she got her shot (her indignant roar echoed through the building when that happened). After a few minutes I felt sure I wasn't going to faint or turn purple, so I left. All in all, it took me about an hour and a quarter to be vaccinated. The shots are supposed to take effect within 7-10 days, so by the end of the month, I should be well-protected against the awful bugs that are floating around.

Now I'm hoping my husband and kids will get their flu jabs. It would be good for all of us to be well this winter.

question: have you been immunized yet?

mompoet - all done

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