Round 1 (ding!): the 6-weeks shots
You know, back when I took Ryan for his 6-week shots, I ranted most eloquently to anyone who would listen about how bleeding expensive it was.
First I went to the paediatrician for his check-up. The good doctor was running 30 mins late and made me languish soaked to the bone in his waiting room (I’d been klapped by one our infamous Jozi thunderstorms in the parking lot). I undressed Ryan, the doc weighed him, measured him up and down and around the head, bicycled his little legs and ABRACADABRA! 10 minutes. R565 cash.
(Bet your ass I’m sending Ryan to medical school. I plan to brainwash him by playing reruns of Grey’s Anatomy and House until he’s of varsity age.)
Two days later I’m at the hospital baby clinic, where the sister in charge is bad-mouthing some other mommy who “tried to pull a fast one” by saying she’d gotten the date wrong for her son’s appointment. “Well I showed her – she’ll have to wait three weeks for a spot now.” Absorbing this oblique threat, I meekly undressed Ryan (who was so down with this programme), and she weighed and measured him again, gave him his government-grade (I asked) shots and BIBBITY BOBBITY BOO! R680 cash.
After I crossed her palms with silver, we made an appointment for his next round of shots at 3 months, which the sister informed me would be another R680.
“Screw this moneymaking merry-go-round!” I mumbled under my breath.
“See you in January!” I said with my giant Chicklet front teeth smile.
Round 2 (ding ding!): the 3-month shots
Needless to say, I phoned in and cancelled on the hospital baby clinic. There had to be other options. Government clinic? There’s one in my neighbourhood...
I did a little drive by; I parked my car in a deserted, weed-infested parking lot with graffiti on the surrounding brick walls. I’d just fetched the Lionheart from school, so I wheeled him along in his pram, into a crowded dark room where about 30 ladies sat in chairs in rows, like at Home Affairs.
Silence. I was the only whitie... and I felt EMBARRASED to be there. Not to be seen there, but because all the mothers there were so obviously from an impoverished background. They must have taken me all in – Honda Jazz (which was almost repossessed a few weeks ago), fancy Peg Perego pram (five years old and coming apart at the seams), Ginger Mary T-shirt (hand-me-downs from my mom who thinks I dress like a bag lady)...
See how hard I’m trying to rationalise why I think I’m ‘poor enough’ to deserve to get Ryan’s shots done for free? “When I was little,” I tell myself, “the nurses came to our primary school and we got all this done for free - because we pay taxes!” I almost felt like I needed to dress down for my government clinic adventure. Guilt-ridden, I backed the pram out of there pronto.
Interesting side-note: a rather cuckoo friend of mine says to never get your child’s shots done at a free clinic, because “the Illuminati put funny stuff in the government-grade vaccines to control the mass population”. Pretty nuts, eh?
So this is how I found myself at Dis-Chem this afternoon. I figured: “It’s a discount pharmacy, right? How much could it possibly cost?” As the sister was prepping Ryan’s vaccines, she said: “You know about the costs?” “Oh, I’m sure it will be okay,” I said, alarm bells clanging in my ears but me far too polite to say: “Stop the bus! How much exactly IS this going to cost me?”
It cost R1309. Almost double the R680 it would have cost at the hospital baby clinic. I had to split it between my debit and credit cards.
Let me tell you what I would rather have spent R1300 on:
- 8.3 super-sized tins of (or five months’ supply) of Lactogen baby formula for Ryan
- 412 nappies for the Lionheart, or 646 nappies for the Little Prince
- A month’s worth of meat and veggies, to feed our family of four
- Given a street child a crisp R20 note every day, for 64 days
- Put it all on red at Silverstar Casino
I feel a bit guilty bitching about the price of vaccines. After all, here I am moaning that something necessary for my child’s health costs too much – but earlier today I called someone out about paying their domestic worker too little (R50 bucks a day).
What do you think, readers? I’ve heard some moms are anti-vaccine. Their kids are shot-free. Am I being a Scrooge, complaining about the price of vaccines? Playing fast and loose with Ryan’s health? Taking vaccines quit literally out of the mouths of underprivileged babes if I go to a government clinic? Be honest – I can handle it.