Blog | Tuesday, November 10, 2009

H1N1, or how I learned to stop worrying and love the flu


How did I get vaccinated for H1N1? I showed up at a free community health clinic. There were plenty of doses available. I didn't stand in a line. It took me longer to figure out parking than to get inoculated.

With a newborn at home, my wife and I decided to make H1N1 vaccination a priority. We'd already gotten seasonal flu shots and whooping cough updates. But the H1N1 vaccine shortage is well-documented. You need me to Google it for you? Click and pick for yourself from among 739,000 results.

But our family doctor posted a sign that he won't get the H1N1 vaccine at all. Our pediatrician's phone system collapsed under the weight of all the calls for H1N1; we couldn't get through for any reason.

We're not alone. A Harvard poll said that two-third of parents who'd tried couldn't get their children vaccinated.

So when the county announced it would have vaccines available one afternoon, my wife took our older son to stand in line. She arrived just as it started and waited 45 minutes. But by the time she left there was no line, so she called me to come over.

For comparison, here's what happened at a clinic that same day in an adjoining county. Friends of ours got stuck in that mess. Certainly, the death of a teen there spurred a lot of response. And I can imagine that some clinics are better advertised than others.

But by the time I stopped work and slogged through rush hour, the clinic in my county was busy, but there was no waiting. One piece of paperwork later I was getting injected--painless, not counting rush hour traffic. It was a pocket of availability amidst a lot of shortage. My wife wonders if we got a discount version of the vaccine--H1N2. But you can't beat free swag; I even got a nifty, palm-sized can of wipes.

(If you're interested in duplicating my success, WebMD chimed in with ways to get vaccinated.)