Every fall I bring flu shots home for my family. My wife has a hard time getting to the doctor, and my child uses wild, sadistic gestures to explain how it’s done at the pediatrician’s office. She reminds me every day to bring home the shots, and when I have it, she dutifully drops trou and takes her mediicne. My wife not so much—she requires a bit more wrangling.

Still, it has served us well. I haven’t had the flu in recent memory despite multiple exposures and the Pal Family has steered clear as well. But as of last week, I’m the captain of a plague ship.

MrsPal started coughing last week, then wheezing. Later my phone rang and she told me that her body was aching and she had a fever of 102. It was obviously flu, but I still had her come to the office for a test. Influenza b. Yuck.

So we sent PalKid to a friend’s house for the weekend to keep her away from the bug. This morning at 4am she came into the guest room (where I was isolating myself) to say, “Daddy, I’m shivering worse than when I get out of Lake Michigan.” Shit.

No reason to keep mother and child apart any longer, so I plopped her in bed with mom, hopped in the shower, and skedadled.

PalKid likely has influenza b as well. This year there were two basic flu vaccine formulations: a trivalent and a quadrivalent. Both vaccines contain two types of “a” and one of “b”. The quadrivalent has an additional “b” strain.

The CDC didn’t recommend one over the other. Both matched the circulating flu strains well. So there are couple of reasonable hypotheses as to why my family is down for the count.

1) The flu vaccine covered their strain but it didn’t work well enough
2) They both got the “b” strain not covered by their shots
3) The vaccine covered the strain but has worn off

All of these are plausible and it doesn’t matter too much at this point. Next year’s shots are likely going to be identical to this year’s, but next time, I’m bringing home the quadrivalent.

Meanwhile, PalKid is eating ice cream and watching Minecraft videos. She may end up liking the flu a bit too much.

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