28 May 2008

No vaccinations for you!

I had all my childhood immunization records in hand and I cleared my afternoon schedule so I could sit and relax with my jacked up arm. But I was denied my vaccinations yesterday. Because of my gluten-free necessity I have to get a note from "my regular doctor" saying that it's okay for me to be vaccinated.

Let me tell you how many ways this sucks.

I don't have a regular doctor. We've lived in 4 different cities in 4 years. When did I have time to get a regular doctor? I can't go to one of the doctors Mike's employer uses. They have to have my note from an outside doctor.

Vaccinations don't even have gluten in them. I mentioned gluten on the questionnaire they gave me because there's a chance it will be in the malaria pills I'll eventually have to take. I was hoping the nurse would know which pills were gluten-free.

But it's not a question of ingredients to Mike's employer. It's a question of liability. In no way can it be their fault if I have a bad reaction to anything they give me. On one hand, I can understand that. But if this was going to be an issue, I think it should have been brought up during my medical clearance exams (back in November). I mentioned this to the nurse at the immunization clinic, and she said medical clearances are a different department. But they're both medical and they both affect me getting overseas. They are different departments.

So now I'm trying to get a letter. The nurse printed out a list of the immunizations I need (just about everything you can think of; she seemed incredulous that I hadn't had any vaccinations in the last 10 years). I took it to a pharmacist and the only information she could give me was the names of the manufacturers of the malaria pills, so I can call them myself. Not the phone numbers. Just the names for me to look up online myself. (Yeah, she said that. And I was too annoyed to ask, "So every time you need to call Glasko you have to do a Google search first?" I just wanted to get out of there and go home.)

Then I called the doctor in San Francisco who did my medical clearance exam. A receptionist wrote down the long list of vaccines and the 3 different malaria pill options and said she'd talk to the doctor. She remembered me from the 10 visits or so I had to make within one month, so hopefully the doctor will too and will be sympathetic and write this letter for me. The letter has to be specific. It has to list every vaccine and pill and say whether or not I can have it.

But at the end of the day, she's not "my regular doctor." I kept explaining the situation to the nurse at the immunization clinic and she laid a bunch of bologna out about my regular doctor knows what's best for me and it's in my best interest to get the letter written from my doctor. But at the end of the day, all the bureaucracy cares about is that I get any doctor's signature outside of their system so that they're not liable. The doctor's signature is meaningless if I'm the one who's done all the research because I've yet to find a doctor or pharmacist who even knows what celiac's disease is. And you know what? If I have a bad reaction to the vaccines, it's not going to be from gluten.

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