Day 5: The Influenza Vaccine

“Let the water teem with living creatures, and let the birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” -Genesis 1:20 NIV

As expected, since I’m a healthcare provider, I’m a huge proponent of the influenza vaccine (also known as the “flu shot”).

Wait! Before you stop reading, hear me out!

Let’s go over the benefits of the flu shot:

  1. It helps reduce your risk of catching the flu
  2. If you do catch the flu (and yes, you can still get the flu after getting the flu shot), it reduces the severity of your symptoms and the length of time you are sick.

And to be fair, let’s go over the possible side effects:

  1. Yes, you may feel tired with a runny nose and sneezes.
  2. Yes, your arm will feel a little sore

And, of course, let’s go over the contraindications:

  1. If you’ve had a severe reaction to the flu vaccine in the past
  2. If you have an allergy to eggs or chicken feathers
  3. If you have some type of immunocompromised medical condition or are on medication that suppresses your immune system, please discuss getting the flu vaccine with your specialist
  4. If you are a cancer patient, please discuss getting the flu vaccine with your Oncologist

In February of 2020, my daughter began running a fever between 101-103. And that’s with tylenol/motrin. She described that her whole body was sore and she had trouble sitting and standing, let alone walking. She had a headache, runny nose, was sneezing, and her stomach was upset. She could drink water and Gatorade OK but she couldn’t hold anything else down. And all of this hit her suddenly, as soon as she woke up in the morning.

I did a quick exam at home and couldn’t find anything. While waiting for her appointment with her pediatrician later that day, I spent every 20-30 minutes keeping a cold towel on her forehead, alternating tylenol/motrin, alternating water and gatorade bottles, checking her temperature, and letting her sleep.

At her pediatrician’s office, she had tenderness over her kidneys (that she didn’t have when I examined her), tenderness all over her belly (that she didn’t have earlier that day), and she could barely stay awake on the exam table.

Strep test: Negative.

Flu test: Positive.

Urine sample: Abnormal. Her kidneys were strained, despite her hydration.

I remember sitting there listening to the pediatrician tell me that if she got ANY worse…in ANY way…to take her to the emergency department because of her kidneys and having the flu.

I felt like I did everything right for my child. I gave her the flu shot as soon as it was available. And when she got the flu, I gave her medicine, kept her hydrated, and called her pediatrician ASAP.

And yet, here I was, engulfed in a sensation of helplessness. A whirlwind of “what if things get worse” in my mind.

She’s my only child. The first grandchild on both sides of the family.

Then, as quickly as the flu came, it went. She was better by that evening and was fever-free by the next morning. Her back and stomach stopped hurting. And she was starving. I’m pretty sure she ate everything in the fridge and freezer by lunchtime.

And I gave all the glory, honor, and praise to God.

Because during flu season, everyone is susceptible.

I truly believe that my child would have suffered worse and would’ve made it in the hospital if I didn’t give her the flu shot as soon as it was available.

I am a proponent of the flu shot because, although it’s not perfect, it works.

And where does the flu shot come from? Eggs. And those eggs came from birds.

Thank you, God, for creating birds, which gives us eggs, which eventually gave us the influenza vaccine.

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