I am happy to report that my youngest daughter has a sore arm. Today, she took her last vaccination, bringing her up to date. Here’s how it came to pass….
Yesterday the school gave me two sheets of paper proving that my daughter was vaccinated twice in the first grade, not once. One time, the Health Committees in the Palestinian Authority came, and the second time, the Israeli Ministry of Health came. No one came when my daughter was in the second grade. (The school was right.)
The paper told me what my daughter was vaccinated against, not what vaccinations she took, so I had to have them translated into English and then cross check them against the vaccinations booklet. Surprise, surprise. EVERYTHING was written down! Even the ones given by the Health Committees of the Palestinian Authority (who the Israeli Ministry of Health said never write things down). They did write down the date and the vaccine. (The Health Committees were right.)
At that point, I realized that it was all a big mistake. My daughter was up to date. I was an idiot.
I called H from the Israeli Ministry of Health to put closure on the matter and she said, “It’s up to you as the mother to decide what vaccinations your daughter gets. I cannot force you.” I was confused again. I explained that in fact she had gotten the second grade shots in the first grade, so isn’t she in compliance? No, it turned out: “The Palestinian Authority uses a different combination of vaccines. The combination your daughter took does not include Pertussis or Whooping Cough. That what she’s missing.” “Is it important?” I asked, my heart sinking again. “Well, because the kids vaccinated by the Health Committees didn’t take it, we now have an outbreak of Whooping Cough.” (The Ministry of Health was right.)
That was enough for me. I woke my sleeping angel and we drove like the wind to Abu Tur. If you read my last post, you’ll know that the Israeli Ministry of Health vaccinated the girls in Samhar school today. It was my last chance this year to get the vaccine.
Abu Tur is a mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhood in West Jerusalem. I shouldn’t say “mixed,” I should say, “divided.” I followed the signs and found myself on the Jewish side. I asked several people where the Samhar School for Girls was, but no one knew. Then I asked them to point me to the Arab side of the neighborhood. They pointed down the hill.
I asked a ton of people but no one knew where that school was, but they kindly directly me to the girls school. Once there, I found out it was not Samhar, and one of the teachers said, “That’s in Tur.” “Isn’t this Tur?” I asked. “No, this is Abu Tur!” “Tur is on the other side of the Mount of Olives.
It was 9:55 am and the nurse was only to wait for me until 10 am. I was far, far, far beyond the palce where I was supposed to be. H didn’t answer her mobile phone. I felt angry at myself and guilty for dragging my daughter through the heat, without breakfast, without knowing where I was going.
I flew up the hill, past Jaffa Gate, past Damascus Gate, down into the valley next to the Russian church, up to the Mount of Olives, and down the other side. It still took ten minutes of going to the wrong place before I found the right place. “The nurse from the Ministry of Health is upstairs,” I was told. “The nurse from the Ministry of Health just left,” they told me at the top of the stairs. “But…but…but…”
Then I found the nurse, M, waiting for me in a little kitchen upstairs. She double-checked the vaccination booklet, prepared a combination vaccine that included Pertussis, and shot my daughter in the left arm. My angel didn’t make a sound.
My daughter, I think, is the only now third grader from her entire school (and perhaps from all the private schools in East Jerusalem) who is vaccinated for Whooping Cough. I can’t be sure of this, as I am not sure of anything.
If you ask, I might share what this all means to me, a resident of East Jerusalem, a place that is part of the West Bank according to international law, that was illegally annexed by Israel, and which receives some benefits (like health coverage) but lots and lots of discrimination from Israel. I can’t write about it now because I’m simply too tired.