The vaccine, the vomiting, The Voice and a visual disturbance.

Daily life is heading back to normal, but still a quieter normal for us, while the world is erupting.

Even though COVID-19 restrictions have eased in the past couple of weeks, we are still only really going to work and school and slowly striking a few things off the to-do list. A tradesman came to look at some plaster that’s fallen off the exterior back wall.

Last Saturday George had a flu shot that made him sick for 24 hours, complete with the shaking chills, body-aches and vomiting. I wondered whether I should have him tested for the ‘rona. I rang Priceline pharmacy where he’d had the jab (FluQuadri) and the pharmacist confirmed that vomiting was listed as a side effect in 5% of children.

Other possible side effects of this vaccine were:

  • feeling unwell (malaise)
  • muscle aches (myalgia)
  • headache
  • shivering
  • fever
  • irritability
  • drowsiness
  • appetite loss

Check to all of the above for George, apart from the fever – his temperature remained normal.

It was his first flu shot. He’d been sick with Influenza B when he was 7 and Influenza A at 9 (with a week of high fevers, malaise, myalgia and vomiting each time) so I was determined that this year, with our collective attention drawn closely to the threat of potentially serious viral illness like never before, he’d have a flu shot. I’d never taken him for one before because when he was 5, our GP at the time said it was just children with chronic illnesses like asthma who should get a flu shot.

I am certainly NOT an anti-vaxxer – George has had the full roster of childhood vaccinations, but for some reason, I was always vaguely concerned about the effects of the flu shot in children. I’ve tended to think of this vaccine as something for the over 65s only. But I’ve had one the past two years as they were offered free at work, with no side effects. But for 12-year-old George, that wasn’t the case. “This is the same as getting the flu!” he groaned between vomits.

“Maybe he ate something at that food court. Probably chicken” Mum said on the phone.

On the Monday morning George woke up early and was bouncing around the house again like normal, so I put his 24-hour sickness down to the flu shot rather than a potential case of COVID-19. At that time last weekend, there had been NO cases of COVID in Canberra for the previous month. I didn’t think he needed to be tested. As I write this, a week later, we now have 1 case here – a foreign diplomat who contracted it overseas and is now in quarantine along with his family. Let’s just hope the diplomat didn’t go out and about too much before he was tested. Apparently foreign diplomats don’t have to do compulsory 14-day hotel quarantine. It highlights the message that the virus is out there and we can’t get complacent about social distancing until there’s a vaccine or the virus dies out.

Even though George said getting the flu shot was the same as getting the flu, it wasn’t. It’s better to have a vaccine and risk a relatively mild 24-hour illness than end up sick with actual flu for a week. If the flu shot stops him getting that illness, it’ll be worth it.

Meanwhile in entertainment news, we’ve dumped Masterchef and replaced it with The Voice, which we find much more exciting. We’ve also been watching Season 5 of Fuller House on Netflix – it’s been extended with some new episodes. I do have a soft spot for the show. George used to really like it when he was 9 and 10, but now that he’s 12, forget it. He’s watched a few episodes with me to indulge me and then decided it was more fun to make fun of it. While he was lying on the couch post flu-shot, he watched the much more appropriate Isle of dogs and an 80s classic he’s recently discovered and watched several times this year, Stand by me.

Last Sunday while watching The Voice I asked my couch buddy if the TV was glitching. The middle of the screen had starbursts in it – jagged black and white lines and all the colours of the spectrum. Was this a technical difficulty, or was it Boy George’s makeup? Son George replied that the TV was fine. Then I looked at the walls and they had the same pattern as the TV. The visual disturbance was inside my eyes! Or my brain. It was very disconcerting.

I googled it and squinting through the Vaseline-smeared words on the screen, read that the symptoms were typical of a “visual disturbance”, often with no accompanying head pain and that an episode typically lasted 20 – 30 minutes. Which is exactly what happened.

The starbursts started dissipating and gradually disappeared from the centre of my vision, to the periphery, then they were gone. I read that one of the causes is lack of sleep and as I’d had just three hours the night before, I put it down to that.

We’ve just had a lovely long weekend here in Canberra (the second long weekend in a row). Hope you had a good one. Ours was thankfully spent in much better health than last week’s.

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on

Have you had a flu shot? Did you have any side-effects?

Are you team Masterchef or The Voice?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s