We talk about anti-vax parents, but what about my anti-vax DOCTOR?

Well! I am really holding myself to the 'not write'-ing portion of my url, no? We have been home from MA for nearly a month already; so long, in fact, that we're ready to go back. We're heading up on Friday for what is sure to be a busy weekend with not nearly enough beach time. (What is enough, really?) We are driving up on Friday, leaving well before dawn, because we have a Friday night wedding to attend before hitting the Cape.

Also on Friday afternoon, I am stopping in to see my parents' friend, a family practice doctor, because I am so fed up with the situation here. I have a good friend who recently had her second baby. I am so excited and thrilled for her, even more so than usual, as her first son was stillborn at full term. She and her husband and everyone who love them were understandably gutted, so as you might expect, this pregnancy was an exercise in anxiety and patience for her, and the healthy arrival of Baby J was met with resounding joy and relief. The little guy was evicted at 37 weeks on the dot, and where he was a little early and had a second hospital admission shortly after his initial discharge, his pediatrician and parents are being extra cautious (rightly so!) and requesting that all visitors be up to date (i.e. within five years) on their pertussis boosters. My friend does not have family in the area, and where her husband has to get back to work and I am often around during the day, she asked if I wanted to hang out and help when I could. (Um, smooshy baby? Hello, OF COURSE.) However, my last vaccinations were 8 1/2 years ago, so I would need a booster first.

Here is where the vaccine troubles came about, and believe me, the issue is not mine. I'm a firm believer in vaccines. Vaccination Is Good! If I were a parent, I would probably try to seek out the doctors who will not accept patients whose parents refuse to vaccinate. You see, in my first legal job, I worked on the autism litigation. I read the vaccine licensing files. There is no conspiracy! Vaccines are not a boon for big pharma at the expense of children! I work in the industry, and big pharma is no saint, but they aren't out to screw us either. (I could go ON, but I'll spare you.) Anyway, I called my doctor to see if I could come in for a booster and explained my (tiny, defenseless newborn) situation. The current pertussis outbreak is the worst in 50 years, so this should be no big deal, right? HA. My doctor refuses to give boosters inside of 10 years, no exceptions, no discussions. I ... whaaa??

I know I received a tetanus shot in January of 2004, because I needed a few shots before I would be allowed to return for my last semester of law school per Washington, D.C., regulations. I remember the tetanus shot because it caused a baseball sized welt to swell on my arm and it hurt like crazy. I'm pretty sure I also started the Hep B series at that point as well. I do not have any written record from this visit though, as I had to turn it in to my school, and didn't think to make a copy. The doctor who administered the vaccines (my parents' friend) only stores inactive records for seven years, and the health records are not part of my student file at the law school (yes, I checked!). I have no way of knowing for sure whether the tetanus shot I received in 2004 contained the pertussis vaccine, but where Tdap was not licensed until 2005 and I was over 19 at the time of my last shots, I'm guessing it was Td and therefore did not contain pertussis.

Per the CDC:

ACIP recommends that if Tdap vaccination status cannot be confirmed with written, dated records, the patient is considered unvaccinated and is therefore eligible to be vaccinated with Tdap. Tdap should be administered regardless of when Td was last received.
  (Emphasis added.)

Despite this, the very best my doctor's office will *begrudgingly* do is a pertussis titer to check my antibody levels. I can go in and pay for an office visit, likely pay for the unnecessary lab testing, wait for the results of the titer, then pay for another office visit when I need the vaccine. Seriously? NO THANK YOU. BUT I WILL TAKE MY RECORDS TO GO, PLEASE.

I am filled with frothy rage over this. I have a specific reason to request a vaccine that I have strong reason to suspect that I actually need, that the CDC recommends a person in my situation receive, and that, on the off chance I do not need it, will not hurt me. I honestly cannot fathom a reason why this would be refused. Is there one I'm missing? Because this seems completely outrageous to me. Cue the ragey rage.

Luckily, I am headed to MA on Friday, and my parents' friend is willing to sneak me in to put an end to this nonsense. (HOORAY.) In the meantime, perhaps I will channel this rage into writing about more interesting things, like all of the ridiculously delicious food I have been making around here, despite the fact that my ass is big enough crush Wisconsin? Just you wait -- stupidly easy peach pie, kielbasa mac & cheese, wild mushroom pizza, backyard basil pesto. Talk soon!


Lisa Graves said...

Did you check with your local health department? I've gotten all my kids' shots there (our insurance didn't pay for preventative care hahahahah ORLY?) and when H went to the Dominican Republic a couple of years ago, he got his HepA and malaria shots there.

Kate said...

This is brilliant. I called the county health department here, and they're offering free Tdap right now, what with the current OUTBREAK and all (OMG again, Doctor). I don't even need an appointment -- I can walk right in! Thank you!

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