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The Informed Parent

You Have To Laugh: Flu Shots

by Louis P. Theriot, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Sep. 15, 2004
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Having suffered the ravages of the "flu" in 1991, whereby I virtually lost 5 days of my life, I vowed to myself that I would dutifully receive the flu vaccine every fall. One day in October, with our flu shots in full supply, I told my nurse that I wanted to get the shot that day and not to let me forget.

Trevor is a tough little guy...much wiser than his 6 years on this planet. He is an impish looking boy. Shocking red hair, freckled face and a gaping space in his upper gums where his two front teeth once resided, gave him the appearance of a character out of a Mark Twain novel. All that was missing was a slingshot in his hip pocket. By today's standards, he would be at the very least, a strong-willed child. He certainly was a handful for his mom.

We made it through the exam without a hitch. We now got to the part of the visit where I said it was time for Trevor to receive his flu shot. There was a long pause as Trevor warily backed into the corner and assumed a defensive posture. Mom folded her arms in front of herself and shrugged, "Lotsa luck! I don't think he'll let you do it!" Her passivity and defeatism led me to believe that she was probably correct, and it also assured me who ran that house. I knew that I had lost an ally in mom. It was late in the fourth quarter, and time was running out. I was out-manned, and out-gunned.

Then it came to me! Realizing that there was no way I could coerce Trevor into getting his shot, I plea-bargained. I said, "Trevor, I tell you what. If you get a shot, I'll get a shot. And I will go first!" Now there was an even longer pause as his eyes danced and measured me from head to toe. I caught Trevor and his mom completely off guard, and he took the bait. I don't think he even realized it when he warily answered, "O.K." I think the urge to call my bluff out-weighed the possible consequences.

The trap was set. Without hesitation, I leaned back and pressed the intercom. "Nurse, I'll need two flu shots. One for me, and one for Trevor." There was absolute silence until the nurse appeared with two sterile syringes on a shiny silver tray.

I quickly rolled up my sleeve and in the blink of an eye, lived up to my end of the deal. I don't think mom moved a muscle, and Trevor just stood in the corner with his jaw agape exposing the large void in his mouth. He too didn't move a muscle while he received his shot. Like two statues, Trevor and mom watched me as I buttoned my shirt and prepared the chart for their departure. Trevor looked at mom, and in a stunned voice said, "...can he do that?"




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