Polio Vaccine

Yesterday got up as usual. Hannah has been waking me up at around 4a.m. every other day and then going back to sleep until 7a.m., then, if I’m lucky, I get to sleep another hour or so before she’s ready to get up. That day was one of the days where they were giving the polio vaccine at the city health centre. Yusuke had said it was difficult to get to, so I decided to take a taxi. Taxi was booked for 12:50, and Hannah was getting a bit grizzly, because she had refused to nap when I put her down earlier. I decided to go and wait downstairs. I waited for ten minutes, still no taxi. I mailed Yusuke, who called them. Apparently there was some computer error, and they would send a car round as soon as they could. I was supposed to be at the health centre by 1:30, so was starting to get a bit stressed. The taxi turned up at 1:10 and whizzed to the health centre managing to get us there at 1:25

When I got to the 2nd floor, it was like a cattle market of babies! There must’ve been about 70 babies there, all of different ages. People can choose whether to do all the D.P.T. shots before Polio and vice-versa, so that’s why there can be a difference, I suppose. I wish they would just set a schedule and be done with it. They were so organised there. There were about 10 health visitors milling around helping us fill out the forms and sitting us all in chairs according to our number (it was a first come, first served thing). We all sat in there and took our babies’ temperatures until the doors to the next room opened and we had to all stand up and walk around in a regimental line.

In the next room there were three doctors, all with a nurse each, and a basket to put your bag in. While I was walking in the line, Hannah had fallen asleep, and when we got to the doctor, she didn’t really take too kindly to being woken up so that she could have a cold stethoscope on her chest. The doctor was a very nice older lady, who spoke a small amount of English and very fast Japanese. After the check-up, I was escorted to a waiting drop-side cot, so I could put Hannah’s clothes on properly. They seemed to have thought of everything. Then I joined another line to the next room, where there were three health visitors administering the vaccine. Most of the babies were crying even before they got the vaccine. Hannah started crying a bit because of all the other babies. When we sat down (again with a basket there to put my bag in!), the woman said that she would probably cry, and I said something like, ‘I’m sure she won’t because she’s starving’, and as predicted, to the surprise of everyone, she gobbled it up like it was milk.

After that, we went into yet another room with lots of chairs in and a couple more cots. We had to wait in there for 30 minutes. This doesn’t seem like a long time, but bearing in mind Hannah was already almost an hour behind for her next feed, it was fairly long. They had told us that we shouldn’t feed the babies for 30 minutes either side of the vaccine. I made Hannah’s bottle and cooled it ready and fed her in the last room (45 mins. after the vaccine). Everyone had been really nice and friendly there, which was a bit surprising really – not sure why I felt so.

Most people had come by car, but of course I hadn’t. I thought about trying to flag a taxi down, then thought that maybe I could walk. I wasn’t sure where I was going, but saw a sign to a place that I knew, so I just followed that. I started to regret walking a little bit, because it was really windy and I was wearing a skirt. Hannah slept the whole way though. It took almost an hour to walk to the station, where I would have to catch the train and then walk another half an hour to my apartment. I went for lunch first and then decided to take a taxi home after all. It wasn’t the walking that was horrible, but the wind was super crazy at this point. most of it had been blowing my way on the walk, but one gust blew into Hannah’s face and gave her the shock of her life!

I ended up getting home at about 5p.m., just in time to run a bath and get Hannah ready for her bedtime. I fed her after her bath, and she fell asleep. I managed to get one burp out of her and then carried her, sleeping, to her bed. I fully expected her to wake up, and she did a tiny little bit, but then fell fast asleep until 6 o’clock this morning!


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