There are only three men I'd fly alone with three kids for.
My husband, Ryan Reynolds, and David Wescott.
David's just one of those good eggs, albeit a self-admitted PR flack, but when he asks me to do something, it goes high on my priority list, especially when it has to do with vaccines.
Yes, that's right. While moms from across the blogosphere were being wooed by Nestle, a small handful of us (some of whom I helped suggest) were donning disposable lab coats and shower caps to explore the inner workings of the GlaxoSmithKline vaccine facility.
I told you I live the glamorous life.
Now before you try to call me a "sell out" like a few of my colleagues who attended this event were accused of being - because you're right, getting plane tickets, a rental car, and a deli platter lunch to listen to a series of vaccine experts and factory managers discuss diseases is completely selling out (you got me!) - let me tell you why I went:
I reallllllly wanted to spend 45 minutes at 8pm on a Thursday night strapping three car seats into a Kia Minivan at the National Car Rental joint.
Okay, not really. But seriously, car seats are hard to do in the dark people.
I can assure you it was not for the free "vacation." The trip to Marietta, Pennsylvania with my three children, that included dropping them off with my in-laws and then driving two hours from Philly and back was not a vacation.
Nor was it for the swag.
I got a lined notepad and bic pen so I could take notes.
At least I didn't have to fight anyone over it.
We're not boycotting pads and pens are we?
No people. I went because I'm an academic. Or I used to be. You know, when my brain wasn't jello. And I'm very interested and I'll be honest, skeptical, of certain vaccines.
My level of fear and understanding about vaccines has evolved since having my oldest daughter. It's hard, as a parent, to swallow the numerous research studies and news reports that clearly show the efficacy of vaccines along with the equally numerous stories of parents dealing with adverse reactions to such vaccines.
I've also experienced two ends of the vaccine spectrum.
My sister died in 1980 from complications from Hib, which has now been almost completely eradicated thanks to the vaccine of the same name.
My husband's aunt died in 1960-something from complications related to the old DPT vaccine.
So when you say vaccines don't do anything, you're wrong.
And if you say people don't have bad reactions to them, you're wrong too.
I'm not surprised, nor am I offended, that the group that spoke with us, including the facility director and on-staff pediatrician, were completely and adamantly pro-vaccinations.
But what I was surprised about was their dedication for what they've taken on as "their cause."
It's clearly more than a business to them.
There have been many people, including myself at one time or another, who imagined these drug companies pumping kids with chemicals without thinking too much about the consequences just to make a buck.
But putting a face to this business, many of them female faces, most of them parents with children, was eye-opening.
Understanding the power that vaccines have had in our society, and knowing that when we choose to vaccinate our children, we're not just protecting them, but we're most likely protecting their friends and their friends (and on and on) is something that I don't think many people consider.
This doesn't mean that I'm going to run out and get the H1N1 vaccine, or even the seasonal flu vaccine. After much heartache over it last year, I ended up getting the older two the vaccine and a few days later they (including my husband) all had the worst stomach virus ever.
I'm still researching and trying to formulate my own educated decision about them.
But I will say that since visiting the facility and speaking with the professionals, I've seen a different side of vaccines. And believe me, it wasn't the blinged out cars and fancy handbags of high level executives.
It was the real, humble, and passionate faces of men and women who truly believe strongly in the power of what they do.
Regardless of how I feel about vaccines, I can't help but appreciate their passion. Only next time, I'd really appreciate if they'd have Ryan Reynolds there to give some shots. I'd happily volunteer myself as a veritable pin cushion.
A few interesting tidbits:
- Vaccines are tested within the typical newborn schedule. So when they test a new DTaP or whatever, they don't just test it alone. They test it with the other vaccines that are supposed to be taken at that time.
- You should report any and all reactions, no matter how big or small they are, to your doctor. My son had a week long low grade fever after his 3rd Hib and Prevnar series and my pediatrician decided not to give the 4th dose. It's important to report anything so that they can track it.
- When you're taking your kids to get vaccinations, topical anesthetic does work, but you need to plan ahead. Just make sure you tell the nurse where you put it (you might want to mark it on your kid's body with a marker or bandaid). You can also try Buzzy, a pretty cool product that can make shots less painful for your kids.