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Kid, you made my day!

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by sourapril sourapril (Member) Member Nurse

sourapril has 5 years experience and specializes in public health.

2 Articles; 18,980 Profile Views; 723 Posts

This is a story about a young man who took charge of his life and made an important decision that would provide lifelong benefit to his health and others. Having an open dialog with parents about vaccines is a battle I have to fight every day. We as healthcare providers have to find creative ways to convince people that something beneficial as vaccines are not poisons and we are not helping big pharmaceutical companies to make money. My client convinced me that my battles are worth to fight for.

Kid, you made my day!

You don't have to be a nurse to appreciate my story. You don't even have to believe in vaccines. Because this story is about a young man who took charge of his life and made important decisions that would provide lifelong benefit to his health and others.

I administer immunization at a local health department. I recently saw a 19 year old client who came to our immunization clinic with two friends. There was no vaccine record in his chart, so at first I thought he probably needed some travel vaccines because summer is approaching. After he sat down on the exam chair, I asked him, "What can I do for you today?" He said that he had never had any vaccines in his life due to his parents' beliefs and he would like to get everything up to date. Then I said, "You are probably looking at 7-8 shots today. Can I ask you what made you change your mind?" He replied, "I am finally old enough to make my own decision and I want to get caught up with all the vaccines I need." He also told me that his mom brought him to a chicken pox party when he was only one and he saw a doctor (dentist) for the first time last month.

He needed 8 vaccines that day. Even though I knew it's safe to give multiple vaccines at once and I have given multiple vaccines to babies on a routine basis, I knew he would be sore for a while. So I asked, "We can spread them out over time since it is a lot of shots." After discussing the pros and cons, sides affects and everything, he firmly replied, "I want to get all of them today." I thought what an extraordinary young man!

You don't see young people like him every day in my clinic. I mean what kind of normal 19 year old would put "get vaccines" on top of their to-do lists? Most people dread to get any shots and some people will try everything to avoid getting vaccinated by signing exemption forms, protesting at governmental buildings or making emotional plead on camera.

My typical young clients either had to be coaxed by their parents into getting a shot or they wanted to run away from me the moment they entered the exam room. From time to time there would be kids who didn't mind the poke but still saw vaccination not as a necessity but rather as a chore that they had to do in order to attend school or please their parents.

This young man did his own research on vaccines before he showed up at the clinic. He and his friends asked me a lot of questions like "what disease does it prevent, what side effects would I experience." I mean most kids (heck, most adults) usually want to get in and out as quickly as possible. We spent probably 45 minutes to one hour in the exam room.

I also appreciate the fact that he brought his supportive friends with him. They were talking to him to make sure he was calm (I know I would be nervous if I have to be poked that many times). I told him that although we could waive the fee for most vaccines (he had no insurance or income), he had to pay for one of them. His friends were concerned that he might not be able to afford the $30. He thought for a second and then said "I will use my emergency money." I wanted to tell him that "I would totally pay for your vaccine if you didn't have any cash on you." Later I learned that when he checked out at the cashier, he was pulling out some dollar bills, a five, a ten. Our cashier told him "that's good, that's enough, we can cover the rest." Honestly, it was a little heart breaking to hear that.

Every day I try to convince parents to get their children vaccinated and sometimes I meet resistance from the parents who either don't believe in vaccines and just want to get the "required" ones or want to "negotiate" with me on the number or the kind of vaccines. A couple of times even though their children want to get vaccinated after I told them about how horrible some of the vaccine-preventable diseases can progress (like meningitis), the parents simply told them "no" as if I was a stranger offering their children a lollipop.

Health care providers have to use creative ways to get people vaccinated. There was a video that showed a pediatrician pulled out a bunch of kleenex from a tissue box to divert the toddler's attention. I praise the doctor for his creativity and I wish I could play a clown when I administer vaccines, but if we have parents' and the society's support we wouldn't have to try so hard to convince them to do something that's good for their children like telling a person to breathe air because it keeps him alive.

Currently in our state, the non-medical exemption rate is 4.6 percent. That's much higher than the national average, which is 1.8 percent. Even though the state ranks at the bottom in vaccination coverage among children in the nation, I started to see some positive steps made toward public health interventions recently. Our old state law only required parents to sign the personal belief exemption form once, period.

Now the new law requires them to sign at each age if the child is in pre-K and once a year if they are K-12. This small change will provide the parents a chance to review their decision and get informed with new information. The fact that this young man came to see me increased my confidence in the work I do and assure me that my work in public health has an impact in the community.

Kid, you made my day!

Public Health Nurse

2 Articles; 18,980 Profile Views; 723 Posts

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Michael M. Heuninckx specializes in Emergency Department.

17 Articles; 43 Posts; 39,211 Profile Views

It is very reassuring to hear that this young man has made his health a priority. Based on this story, I believe he will do very well in life. Thank you for sharing! It is one story that should be shouted from the mountain tops!

Michael M. Heuninckx RN-BSN

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457 Posts; 9,933 Profile Views

You are right. He is an amazing young man, and he has some pretty amazing friends.

It breaks my heart that he had to use his emergency money to pay for one vaccine. I would have been like you and wanted to give him the money.

I'm so glad you shared his story.

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No Stars In My Eyes has 43 years experience and specializes in Med nurse in med-surg., float, HH, and PDN.

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Hooray for kids with brains enough to research, think critically and form their own opinions. For many it would take learning the hard way.

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xoemmylouox has 13 years experience as a ASN, RN.

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I too work in primary care. I believe we have only had one child "defy" their parents and obtain some vaccines they needed for their nursing program. She came in for a few visits and a host of vaccines, but once she was booted from her nursing program she stopped. She was the only one in her close family of nearly 100 people who had ANY vaccines. It is very scary when one considers that one infected person can infect the whole bunch who could then spread it to the rest of us.

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Pumpkinn has 1 years experience.

129 Posts; 5,743 Profile Views

I have to get an MMR vaccine today as a volunteer work requirement as well as for school, and honestly I was feeling nervous about it. However, this story made me feel better about it! That is one smart and brave kid to be doing his research and handle 8 shots in one go.

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annie.rn has 21 years experience.

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That's wonderful! In no way do I agree with his parents' actions. However, they ought to be applauded for raising such a smart and obviously impressive young man :-)

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dudette10 has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Med/Surg, Academics.

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As a person who has trouble maintaining immunity to measles and hep B (I seroconvert for a time, then lose it), this story makes makes me smile. Good on him.

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blondy2061h has 15 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Oncology.

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Fantastic story! I'm so glad he was able to find your clinic. 8 shots. Yowza! I know how sore I was after one TDap.

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277 Posts; 6,208 Profile Views

I am glad to see that you explained the risks too:

After discussing the pros and cons, sides affects and everything, he firmly replied, I want to get all of them today.”

There are many providers who just say "the risks are minimal" and not explain what they are or how serious they could be. Locally there was just a boy who had an adverse reaction to the MMR vaccine; seizure and paralysis. Rare, but it does happen.

The person in your story also defies the demographics of the [typical] antivaccine crowd (which are); either affluent, usually caucasian (hence no money to pay for it) or African-American (culturally due to events like Tuskegee). Perhaps his demographics may have played in to his decision thus explaining how something so "unlikely" could occur...

The other thing to remember is vaccines are a choice, and when you offer a choice, some people are going to say "no." I do not believe in helmet laws for motorcycles either, yet I would never get on my '78 Harley without one.

I also applaud you and your practice for not turning away an unvaccinated person. There are too many practices that we hear about dropping unvaccinated patients, especially children. This is so hypocritical. That only reenforces the distrust that those people have in healthcare. That should be looked upon as an opportunity to build trust, help them make a truly informed decision, and respect that decision.

It reminds me of the situation of churches refusing to baptise a child just because their parents are not practicing (belonging to a church), OR preaching intolerance of gays and lesbians. Just like unvaccinated patients, these are the people that need the help of these institutions the most, not the people in the choir. At one point I did sales, I was very good at it and made a lot of money. I told people that I did not start to work until the client told me "no."

When I hear about unvaccinated people, my first question is why did their doctor (provider) not earn their trust? That is really what it comes down to. I have seen too much paternalism saying "I said to do it," "this is our policy," even explaining the risks and benefits, but the earning of the patient's trust is lacking. Sometimes respecting the decisions that one makes now builds the trust that allows them to change their mind.

This renews one's hope that there is still common sense out there. Thank you for sharing.

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blondy2061h has 15 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Oncology.

1 Article; 4,094 Posts; 37,736 Profile Views

The person in your story also defies the demographics of the [typical] antivaccine crowd (which are); either affluent, usually caucasian (hence no money to pay for it) or African-American (culturally due to events like Tuskegee). Perhaps his demographics may have played in to his decision thus explaining how something so "unlikely" could occur...

It's possible that the family is affluent but doesn't give the teen spending money and certainly wasn't willing to fund this mission.

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WoosahRN has 10 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in PICU.

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This made my day too!!!

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