Week 54 – vaccinations

Last week, Reindeer was scheduled for his fourth set of vaccinations. He’d had his first three sets at four, eight & twelve weeks and, thanks to his August birthday, he was just in time to receive the new meningitis vaccine on the NHS too.

This set of vaccines was a challenge because he was so much more aware this time. Previously he’d had no understanding of what was happening beyond feeling the discomfort of the injections. He cried a little at each session but was quick to soothe back to normal. 

This time he could understand there were multiple moments of discomfort and he was prevented from getting away from them. There were four injections in total and, at the halfway point, the nurses tried blowing bubbles to distract him. I suspect the main reason this didn’t work is that he is now able to understand enough body language and behaviour to tell that, since we were still sat there with the nurses, more was to come. I don’t blame him for being annoyed about this!

Injection three was the real problem though: the vaccines come in pre-readied ampoules with syringe attached, so all the nurse needs to do is double-check the details, open the pack and administer. No need to open the ampoule and attach a separate syringe. Unfortunately, when the nurse started the injection, the needle and ampoule came apart. The needle remained in Reindeer’s leg, the vaccine dripped down my leg and the nurse was staring horrified at the ampoule which she was now holding totally separately from Reindeer.

She apologised profusely – this had never happened before – and set about making Reindeer comfortable. He was fine but we need to go back in a month to have that vaccine again. Neither we nor Reindeer are looking forward to this.

Alongside the vaccinations comes a list of common side effects and things to watch for over the next few days/weeks. Sure enough, Reindeer developed a temperature over the next 24 hours. Thankfully it didn’t slow him down at all.

We’re now in the 6-10 day post-vaccine window. The MMR leaflet warned of a rash during this time and, lo!, it developed today in the one hour between getting ready to swim and getting dressed afterwards. It was quite shocking to see how quickly it spread over his torso and thighs. Weirdly, it made me grateful that he’d had the vaccine because if that’s the speed with which measles takes hold then I don’t ever want him to contract it. 

This whole round if vaccines once again made me think about whether they’re a good idea. I suspect I’ll always have a small qualm about them – Reindeer is far too precious for me to take risks with – but I believe the risks and consequences of not vaccinating far outweigh the uneasiness I feel about these injections. Measles, meningitis and their ilk are serious infections with life changing (and, sometimes, life ending) consequences. Given that this is avoidable via vaccination, I’m confident we’ve made the best choice.

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