Vaccines promise health — and fun — for a family tired of social distancing. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Vaccines promise health — and fun — for a family tired of social distancing. (Jennifer Bardsley)

COVID-19 pandemic brings a new appreciation for flu shots

After not leaving the house for weeks, a drive-thu appointment to get an influenza vaccine is an adventure.

“Good morning and guess what?” I flicked on the lights in my daughter’s room. “Today’s the big day. We’re getting our flu shots.” She looked up at me with sleepy eyes, and I kissed her on the cheek. “Be sure to wear a short-sleeved shirt.”

I was already dressed for the occasion. Not only was I wearing a T-shirt underneath my sweater, but I wore jeans, instead of sweat pants, for the first time in weeks.

The problem was, there was a high chance that we might forget our 5:30 p.m .drive-thru appointment with the Seattle Visiting Nurses at the local high school. Working and learning from home blurred one day into another. I set an alarm for 5 p.m. to remember to leave on time.

Over a family lunch at the kitchen table, we all talked about the big event. We hadn’t gone anywhere for a couple of weeks, except for a visit to Thomas Eddy Park in Snohomish to walk along the river with Grammy and Papa.

“This isn’t the vaccine I was hoping for,” my husband said, “but at least it’s something. I don’t want to get the flu, either.”

“Can I drive?” asked my son.

“Sure,” I said.

“Last year, I was nervous about getting shots,” my daughter said. “But now that I’ve gotten my ears pierced, shots don’t seem like such a big deal.”

After lunch, I put dinner in the slow cooker so it would be ready by the time we came home from our drive-thru appointment. My husband cleared meetings off his work calendar so he would be available. The kids focused intently on school work, so they would be done in time to go.

It wasn’t until I was checking my daughter’s last assignment that I noticed something funny: the date. I knew it was Tuesday — at least I was pretty sure it was Tuesday — but the date? It turns out I was one week off. Our flu shot appointment was still one week away.

“Uh-oh,” I told my daughter. “I got the date mixed up. Our shots aren’t until next week.”

“What?” She looked at me accusingly. “But I’m wearing short sleeves.”

“And I’m wearing jeans,” I said, “for nothing.”

Dragging my feet, I walked up stairs to let the guys know about my goof.

“It’s OK, Mom,” my son said. “But I was really looking forward to leaving the house.”

“Me too,” my husband said. ”Maybe we could go someplace else?”

I stared out the window and looked at the gray sky. Where could we go for fun on a Tuesday night in the middle of a global pandemic?

“I’ve got it,” I said. “After dinner, let’s go to Trader Joe’s and buy milk.”

“Cool.” My son smiled. “Can I drive?”

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at

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