Immunized

The local paper ran a story last week that said that Public Health District was opening up its H1N1 immunizations to all adults under 65.  The story said that they’d have finished with kids and teens last week and there there was plenty of vaccine, so no reason to wait further.

So, Jackie and I went to their clinic at Lincoln Square Village.

It was quite a production.  We showed up right at the time it was supposed to begin, and got number 85 of the second cohort, which meant that 184 households had already gotten numbers to go ahead of us.  It was as big a crowd as I’ve been a member of in a long time.  By the time we were done filling out our paperwork they were well into passing out numbers in the third cohort of households.

Still, despite the crowd, they moved people along quite quickly.  (I think they had 25 stations where immunizations were being administered.)  We waited for perhaps 20 minutes, got called, went in, and got our shots. Very efficient. And free, which is cool for someone trying to make a living as a writer.

I turned 50 back in June, so I was given a shot rather than the flu mist.  I had considered trying to convince them to give me the flu mist instead–as far as I’ve been able to figure out, there’s no data that suggests it wouldn’t be just as effective in someone who was five months over the cut-off age–but eventually decide to just go with the program.

My mom tells me that she got me flu shots regularly when I was a small child.  Because of the health problems that led to my being misdiagnosed with celiac, I was considered someone with an underlying health issue.  I have no memory of that, but I do know that I didn’t get flu shots from when I got old enough to quit seeing the pediatrician (age 17 or so) until about 15 years ago, when I started getting them most years.

The first time I got a flu shot as an adult, my arm was sore for days.  Most shots since then have made my arm a little less sore than the previous time.  I’ve noticed a similar trend with other immunizations–an initial shot may have made me feel quite feverish and achy, but booster shots tend to have less of an effect.  My theory is that a strong reaction means that I had a poor initial immune response–my body geared up to fight an unknown infection.  Contrariwise, a small reaction means that I was already adequately protected–my body immediately recognized the virus as a known quantity and didn’t need to mount any special response.

If that’s true, then I already had an immunity to H1N1–my arm didn’t get sore at all.

As I say, it was kind of interesting.  I don’t usually find myself with so many people in an enclosed space.  I remember thinking, while milling about with the crowd waiting for flu shots, that it was probably the best chance to catch the flu all year.

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