Shots or Not?

It’s been an up and down sort of thing – flu shots that is. Until last year I had received only one shot. Despite what everyone said it was the one winter that I felt semi-ill from about two weeks after I received the shot until the end of February. Of course it could have been the bad air at the newspaper where I worked just grew worse. I found it depressing to walk in every day and smell the solvents they used to clean the presses wafting through the ventilation system. Someone did a test and found out that only ten percent of the air came in from outside. I started to write “fresh,” but we’re talking Hartford, Connecticut, here, just a few feet from Interstate 84, which could be a parking lot at almost any time of the day. Fresh was a relative term. That 90 percent recycled air was full of solvents. God knows what else just kept bouncing around the duct work. I got the message every Monday morning when I’d find my computer screen covered with a delicate black film, compliments of every Saturday-night/Sunday-morning’s extra heavy press run.

After I received that shot, the nurse made me sit around for 10 minutes to make sure I didn’t go into anaphylactic shock even though I assured her I had been eating eggs in a great many forms all my life without any problems.

That was my last flu shot until last winter. I had begun doing Reiki at the hospital, which offered the seasonal flu vaccine gratis. I accepted the offer, partly to protect myself, but mostly to keep from infecting the patients. The last thing they need is flu on top of whatever else ails them. I got the shot and had no problems, most likely because I’m no longer breathing the solvent-laden air at the Courant.

This year when all the stuff started about the H1N1 vaccine I went back and forth. No, I wouldn’t get it because I’m in the “protected” age group with no “underlying health problems.” Yes, I would to keep from infecting the hospital patients. The whole argument became moot, of course, once everyone ran out of the vaccine.

My decision was reinforced when I received a letter from the hospital saying sorry, no vaccine, for H1N1 or seasonal flu. There was none for the staff, and none for the volunteers. We were all urged to get shots from our health providers. Of course that wasn’t going to work, either. I didn’t know anyone in the area who was offering shots to the public. The local supermarket had a big sign saying that all flu-shot clinics had been canceled until further notice.

Larry and I decided we’d get the seasonal flu shots when the time came, if we could find any. He’s mostly at risk because he pats the dogs he trains, then their owners pat the critters. He usually picks up one good bug a winter from places where there are little germ factories who bring the beasties home from school and keep recycling them around the house, including onto the pets. Once we decided to go ahead with the shot, we figured it would be February before the vaccine arrived.

Then today the hospital sent another letter, this time saying that more H1N1 vaccine had arrived and that I could get a shot tomorrow or Thursday because I “come in direct contact with ill patients.” No requirement but a strong suggestion.

I can take the hint, so I’m off tomorrow for shot No. 1. I’m betting that the same thing will happen with the seasonal flu vaccine, so I’ll probably be double flu-proof in a couple of weeks.

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