Kindergarten sign-up time approaches in a few days and for our 5-year old, it meant updating her inoculation record to bring her up to specs with the state requirements.
Translation...DpTet #5, IVR #4 and MMR #2
English translation...Diptheria/Tetanus/Pertussis, Polio, and Measles, Mumps, and Rubella.
Parent translation...3 separate shots, two in one arm, one in the other.
OKDad translation...crap, here we go again.
I thought it best to spring it on PK right after picking her up from school. After I broke the news and the lip quivering marathon began, had the drive to the county health department building been any longer than the 21 seconds that it was, I'm positive the crocodile tears would have commenced en masse.
As it was, my 8-year old cheerfully chattered encouraging words to her younger sibling, content in the fact that she had endured such torture a mere 3 years ago and that there were no needles awaiting her through the double glass doors of the local health offices.
Now, when I say, "county health department offices," my friends and acquaintances back in LA would either 1) cringe at the thought of having to endure the mass of people, the utter lack of humanity, endless lines and red tape associated with an unscheduled visit to a county run health facility, or 2) say, "Say what...who in the world hassles with the county health department when you could just pay to get your shots at your doctor's office?"
Work with me here, people.
Just imagine LA County with about 9,986,000 less people (or about 14,000 people)
Now put the entire county health department staff in a single building and put it two blocks from your house.
And staff that office with friendly locals who know you, your family, who your doctor is, when the schools start registering kids for next year, and other relevant facts about the community.
And supply that office with enough doses of the required inoculations so you didn't really have to call to check to see if they did indeed have the required inoculations but called anyway and were informed in a most pleasant manner that they would make sure to set whatever I needed aside for PK (they called her by name).
Finally, don't charge the county residences for any services, get them in and out in 15 minutes or less, heft enough reading material onto concerned parents to keep their tense minds busy while waiting, and offer to make a follow-up phone call the next day to see how your child is doing and if there were any negative reactions to the shots.
I kid you not.
This is not your Grandmother's Los Angeles County Health Department.
BTW, the shots went better than expected. PK was thrilled to be able to choose from a wide selection of colorful crayon-brand band-aids, and was actually coherent enough at the end of it all to tell the Skittle-offering nurse that she wasn't allowed to have any chewy candy because of her fillings, but that a dum-dum sucker would be just fine.
She chose a pineapple one. Her favorite. Mine too.