When Flu Shots Go Wrong
I want to be very clear about this: I get flu shots. I think flu shots (and other vaccines) are a good thing. I will get them every year, especially as long as I work at a medical center. I really appreciate getting them for free, and the effort that goes into making that happen. I do not want my experience to in any way discourage anyone else from getting a flu shot, because what I experienced was completely unusual and probably the result of a new person having a bad day. I was not substantially harmed in any way, and got a good story to tell in the process. In the same manner, I have documented my blood drive mishaps here before, and I continue to donate blood and to encourage others to do so. Clear enough?
With that out of the way, I got my annual flu shot last Tuesday. After registering, I made my way to the shot station, rolled up my left sleeve, and looked away in preparation for the actual stab. I felt the needle go in, which wasn’t so bad.
Until the needle wiggled, or went in further – whatever happened, it caused a feeling of repeated stabbiness – causing usually stoic-about-needles me to declare, “Ow! Ow ow ow!” I should have realized then that something unusual was happening – you typically only get *one* stabby pain from a shot, after all.
And then the nurse said, “I seem to be getting all the drippers today.”
I didn’t look right away, but felt the wetness on my arm. I was thinking, “Oh, she must have not gotten all of the vaccine in – I hope I’ll be fully vaccinated.”
And then I looked. And the wetness was blood running down my arm. And there was blood on the ground. My blood. From a flu shot?
Flu shots typically should not cause anyone to need to clean blood off the ground.
Thankfully, a more experienced nurse intervened, helping me clean the blood I couldn’t see off the back of my arm.
And here it is today, 5 days after the fact. Yeah, the picture looks like a thigh instead of an arm. It’s because of the angle I took the picture at. All ye look upon my pasty, flabby, paleness, and despair!
And still, get your flu shots! This year it has H1N1 coverage included in the regular vaccine (so no double shots this year).