When preparations are underway for vaccinations to take place, my household becomes a war zone.
The thought of an impending vaccine, to my boys, resembles the actual possibility of a weapons attack. It is, in essence, a weapon. It’s a needle that comes your way and invades the comfort of your normally undisturbed skin surface. But it also serves a purpose — much like the police department does — to protect and serve. It arms your body against any future attack. It revs up your immune system and prepares its antibody soldiers, so they’re ready when the threat becomes real. It has helped us to practically eradicate the likes of many life-altering (and some life-ending) illnesses like polio, measles and whooping cough. We should be thankful to them for that. Not fighting against them.
To my horror, some of these monsters are making their way back into life — back into action — infecting children, the elderly, and even — yes, it’s true — those with perfectly intact immune systems. For this reason, I, along with my vocal colleagues and vaccine-advocate friends constantly post about the importance of vaccines.
My social platforms, in fact, garnered up some attention recently when it called for physicians and medical professionals to let the world know that we vaccinate, too. #wevaccinate, we all said. A stance on vaccination to show the world doctors vaccinate, too!
But that doesn’t mean that vaccines are welcomed by our kids.
In fact, all common sense flies out the door when we’re talking needles. Children will happily embrace any illness known to man, at least as far as their naïve little selves are concerned, rather than be confronted with the thought of being stabbed.
Why don’t we think of illnesses as a monster? If you knew that prevention was available — that something out there existed that could ward off the thought of that monster winning — wouldn’t you use it? If you played a video game, wouldn’t you use the potion if you knew the threat was possible — even imminent? I would!
My progeny needed to be taken in for boosters just the other day, and I let them know this was about to happen. They deserved advanced notice — I’m not inhumane. But for me, as the victim of incessant whining once notice has been given, minutes in advance is advanced enough.
“Get that arm ready!!” I let a specific one of them know. I know it’s cruel and unusual in its delivery, but when you read on and acquaint yourself with his response, you’ll understand why I’ve taken on humor to tackle the news.
My son becomes frantic. It feels like the start of World War III, as he pulls out his list of excuses. Not in the literal sense — he doesn’t have them written down on a list in his back pocket, but it’s almost as if he does. He starts to go through, one by one, like he’s got this memorized somewhere in the back of his head. Apparently, he prepared in advance. I think he figures that reasoning serves as a justifiable substitute for bacterial protection. As if expecting me to call out, “Objection sustained,” on his behalf. Boy, does he not know who he’s dealing with — a doctor mom like me.
Every line in the book is hurled at me, and all at once. Here is just a small sampling for you to fully grasp the magnitude of his attempt at evasion:
“But my arm will be swollen!”
“I won’t be able to do my homework tonight, thus affecting my overall grades. Ivy league dreams crushed! My aspirations flushed down the toilet.”
“I was going to write a beautiful poem tonight. By hand. Just for you!”
“I have a scheduling conflict.”
“How will I be star basketball player this week, when my arm is hurting, or worse, swollen?”
“The dog needs to be walked!” (We don’t have a dog, dear.)
“My friend is coming over.”
The next phase usually involves hysterics. Some groveling is typically a part of this, as well.
Bottom line — nothing works.
Because this is what it boils down to for me:
They’ll scream. They’ll fight. They’ll throw anything at me but the kitchen sink. But I’ll still vaccinate my kids.
My children may (and will likely) need dragging into that pediatrics office, but they will get vaccinated, by hook or by crook. Because, as long as evidence-based medicine shows me significantly reduced numbers, and we see the dramatically positive effect on our society through time, I will be vaccinating my children.
Now excuse me. I’ve got a child to rope in.
Dana Corriel is an internal medicine physician who blogs at drcorriel.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com