Woman horrified when doctor gives her a flu shot without her consent: 'I wasn't even his patient'

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family member, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.

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My grandmother was born in the United States, but she was raised in the Azores. When she moved back to the United States, she remembered very little English from her time here.

My mother was born in the Azores, but she was raised in the United States. She learned English quickly after enrolling in English-speaking classes in elementary school at the age of six.

From an early age, my mother served as a Portuguese-American translator for my grandmother for doctor's appointments. She continued accompanying my grandmother to appointments to translate until my grandmother passed away.

When my mother was a teen, she went to the doctor with my grandmother as usual. The doctor gave my grandmother a shot. Then he turned to my mother, grabbed her arm, and gave her one, too.

"You can tell your mother you're both protected against influenza now," the doctor told my mother.

If a doctor gave me an injection without my consent, I would be incredibly angry. Not only would it be a violation of my privacy and bodily autonomy, but it could also put me at risk for potentially dangerous side effects from the injection. I would feel like my trust in the medical system had been broken and that my feelings were not being taken into account or respected.

I would demand an explanation from the doctor as to why they felt compelled to administer this shot without consulting me first. And if I wasn't satisfied with their answer, I'd take further action by filing a complaint to the relevant authorities or seeking legal advice.

My mother simply said, "Thank you." Then she and my grandmother went home.

My mother was thirteen at the time, and she'd never had a flu shot before. Unfortunately, both my mother and my grandmother suffered severe side effects from the shot to the point where they actually believed they had the flu.

"I wasn't even his patient," my mother told me. "He didn't ask if I wanted I flu shot. If he had asked, I would have said, 'No.' Who wants a surprise flu shot? He never would get away with something like that nowadays."

It would be years before my mother had another flu shot; my grandmother never had one again.

Fortunately, my mother has never experienced side effects from a flu shot again, which has made her a lot more willing to get the latest jab every year during flu season.

How would you feel if a doctor gave you an injection without your consent? What would you do if something like this happened to you? Comments are welcome.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

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