Vaccinations without Permission

by a California Homeschooling Mother

Last year I took my teenage sons in for their Tdap shots. I debated about it, but decided to proceed. I wish I hadn’t. I checked in at the desk that my sons were there for a Tdap. The injection nurse gave my first son his Tdap vaccination, then while I was distracted with a younger child, I heard my son yelp. I turned and saw the nurse had given him a second immunization (varicella) without my permission because it was “scheduled” in his medical records, and she had a third prepped to give him! He didn’t expect it any more than I did.

I very strongly told her I was unhappy about this, which caused quite an uproar among the staff (who were probably afraid of a formal complaint or lawsuit). Other than making it clear to them that I would not allow them to give son #2 anything but the scheduled Tdap and letting my pediatrician know, I did not file a formal complaint. It was too late, obviously, to undo what had been done. The nurse gave my second son the Tdap only, and put back the other two immunizations she had planned to give him. I had considered sending my sons in without me as they are now teenagers, and I thank God that I didn’t because they may have each received all three immunizations before I would have known it happened.

On a much earlier occasion, an injection nurse mixed up the vaccinations for my two young sons who were there at the same time. I caught the mistake when I asked her to let me know exactly what she was doing. I had to tell her that the immunization she was poised to give one son was actually scheduled for the other. Fortunately no harm was done, but it put me on guard.

When I was pregnant with my youngest, my OB/GYN urged me to get the flu vaccination due to my “advanced maternal age.” This is the only time I consented to get the shot. They told me I would get the “special” mercury-free version as I was pregnant, then urged me to have my children vaccinated as well. I asked if they would also receive the mercury-free shot. They told me they could not. I asked why the regular flu vaccine wasn’t safe for an expectant mother but was safe for my young children. They didn’t provide me with an answer to my satisfaction, so we declined.

Parents, please be alert. If you do decide to partially or completely vaccinate your children, you still need to be paying attention.

You should always be with your children when vaccinations are being given, even when your children are older.

It is your right to ask what is being done. In one case, my asking saved my sons from receiving incorrect immunizations.

Cover your bases. Our pediatrician was wonderful about accommodating my requests for a modified immunization schedule, but these errors still happened outside her examining room.

It’s OK to start out by saying, “OK, today I’m here for his/her varicella (or whatever) vaccination.” If I had started this way, we might have been able to avoid the error. The nurse looked in my son’s electronic file to decide what she thought he was there for.