Saturday, December 12, 2009

H1N1 Vaccines and Swedish Healthcare

Just like over half the country, I took advantage of the social welfare system here in Sweden and received a completely free (you know, if you don’t count all of the taxes I pay) H1N1 vaccine. It was a very Swedish experience.

I made sure to take a look at my friendly neighborhood Vårdcentral. They had the vaccine, gave opening times, and even said there were drop in times. So I dropped in. Only to find out that drop in times were limited. To a few hours once a week.

Luckily, those few hours were the very next day. Drop-ins started at two in the afternoon. I was there at one. I was there at one because, in true Swedish fashion, I was supposed to take a number. The ubiquitous Swedish nummerlapp was being used in full force. I grabbed my number, filled in my health information, and wandered around for an hour. Heading back at two on the dot. I know how Sweden works.

Promptly at two, they began calling out numbers to be inoculated. Because I am just so very Swedish know and know how the system works, my number was very close to the front. I was sitting pretty. By sitting I mean standing at the back of a throng of people.

Despite the number system, there was a massive group of people waiting impatiently to get their vaccine. All of them crammed around the door to the poking room. The poor old lady yelling out the numbers was overwhelmed. And confused.

The numbers had rolled over (I was number 980 in case you were wondering) to the zeroes. There were well over a hundred people waiting which led to confusion. Because when the old lady yelled out number 74, two people came forward. Oh the humanity. Luckily, after much discussion, it was decided that the old lady should yell out all three numbers to avoid any future confusion. With just a few more numbers in front of me, I was glad that we had figured that out. I didn’t want to fight for my vaccine.

I was called into the poking room with three other people. My nurse took my health information and read my personnummer to me. She did not ask for any sort of ID. She didn’t ask me to recite it to make sure they made sense. She read it back to me. Luckily, it was actually my number and they weren’t shooting anyone else up. She also asked if I was allergic to eggs. I am not.

She then cracked a joke. Something about not wanting the disease but wanting the vaccine. I nodded, without acknowledging her joke, because it just wasn’t funny. I didn’t want to encourage her.

Then as swiftly as she made her bad joke, she poked me full of H1N1 vaccine. And the only thing I noticed was that she wasn’t wearing gloves.

I headed back to work and made it a couple of hours before I started making bad jokes while oinking. Or nöff-ing as the Swedish pigs say. I’m sure they were much appreciated by my co-workers.

In the following days, I felt nothing. I did not get sick. I did not get a fever. I did not die. The only side effect was that it felt like someone had poked a needle into my arm. Because someone had. All in all, I felt good that I was getting a little use out of my tax crowns.

Welcome to Sweden. And mass vaccinations.

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  1. I got mine here a couple weeks ago and it was also free. Still have not figured out why but it was, they said the first 1200 at the place were free. Feel so much better now!!No oinking or anything!

  2. Me and my one year old son already oinked the disease! And we came out on the other side alive!

    In OUR experience:
    We were sick 3 days, congestion, headaches etc
    One day was filled with fever/utter pain and then when it was over .. it was over. No more of that, just feeling stuffy and hazy.

    I did it the manly way. Met it full on (unvoluntarily ), survived to tell the story and a slightly stronger immunity system.

  3. I got mine a few weeks ago and had no side effects. There was a short line, I got a number, went into the auditorium where they gave the vaccination, sat down and filled out my information on a sheet and it was also "free" to get. The woman who "shot me up" also didn't wear gloves and asked me if I was allergic to eggs too (since the yokes are what they put the vaccine in). Same experience here in the US besides the hordes of people clammering to get in haha. I have heard of the riots elsewhere through and people having to wait hours upon hours to get in though.

  4. In Örebro there was like 500 meter queue.. stood in it for hours before getting my shot..

  5. Seriously? Your arm didn't even hurt? Mine was out of action for like three days after the vaccine :(

  6. Am I the only one concerned about the not wearing gloves part?! A bad joke I can handle, not wearing gloves when shooting up a bunch of people skeeves me out eight ways to Sunday...

    ~American Fastmo

  7. I heard that about 9 million Europeans got the vaccine, and 4 million of those were Swedes ;). I haven't gotten the vaccine, though I should take advantage of it being free while I'm here!

  8. @mamma – well there you have it. Health care is free in the US also.

    @mamaya – nothing wrong with building up the immune system!

    @Courtney – well luckily this was Sweden and they fear all forms of conflict so I avoided riots despite the hordes trying to get through the door.

    @anonymous – that is a solid line. Mine was definitely not that long.

    @terander – I mean I felt that someone had stuck a needle into it, but it definitely wasn’t out of action for three days.

    @anonymous – well... no. It did kind of get me to raise an eyebrow.

    @Jessy – I read that too. Pretty impressive. Especially considering that there are only about nine million people in Sweden.

  9. I got mine about a month ago. I laughed at all my sniffling friends who got sick, all I had was a useless arm for 3 days.
    Hairy! I also checked if my nurse was wearing gloves.. I have a fear of catching something from a nurse who didn't take proper precautions,then touched someone with something and spread that something to me... did that make sense?? ya I'm neurotic...
    thank goodness she was wearing gloves.
    Sadly, I'm the one who cracked a lame joke in the scenario. wish i was as cool as you ;P

  10. I say she wasn't wearing gloves to get a good touch of those hairy arms lol

  11. @tod. i couldnt help it, i have to comment. that really made me laugh hahahahahaha

  12. Down on the Swedish Riviera we got "invitations" to come in for our flu shots. I had several friends who had pretty sore arms afterward, so I asked if I could have mine in a larger muscle, if you know what I mean. The rest of the story is here:

  13. @LostInTranslation - made perfect sense to me!

    @Tod - lets not make fun. my arms are mostly like fuzzy snakes.

    @Lost - still more making fun?

    @Shazzer - oh that is glorious