H1n1 vaccines, Canadian babies denied Baby Einstein refund, and other miscellany

by DaniGirl on October 27, 2009 · 16 comments

in Life in Ottawa, Working and mothering

I read with interest the story in the media this weekend of how the Walt Disney Company is offering refunds on the purchase of Baby Einstein DVDs, after the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood challenged the idea that the DVDs were a teaching tool rather than simply brain candy for toddlers.

Okay, seriously? People really thought that these DVDs were learning tools and not just a way to keep the baby entertained for 20 minutes so poor mom can take a shower or load the dishwasher or just gaze aimlessly into middle space for a precious hiatus?

But I was curious and I knew I wanted to blog about this story, so I did my due dilligence — which, apparently, the Ottawa Citizen / CanWest Global did not. The original article I read, which I read in the Ottawa Citizen on Saturday, says refunds would be made available to American AND Canadian parents, but when I went to the Baby Einstein Web site, I found that the offer is — as usual — good in the US only.

So let me get this straight — gullible American parents who feel they’ve been duped can be compensated, but gullible Canadian parents, who pay about $5 more per DVD by the way, are SOL? Nice.


The good news is, we should be hearing about the “blueprint” for all-day kindergarten in Ontario today from Premier Dalton McGuinty. I’ve heard that it will be rolled out in a limited fashion within two years but full implementation will take up to five years. Hoping it comes to Ottawa for the fall of 2012, at least!


I spent a lot of yesterday scanning Twitter for H1N1 chatter. Even anecdotally, I can see the tides turning in favour of the vaccine and in my opinion, rightly so. Even though I heard that the vaccine clinics were a bit of a debacle yesterday — seriously, they have people lining up OUTSIDE for up to THREE HOURS?!? — I am highly, highly impressed with the city for implementing a twitter account that updates the wait times at various vaccine clinics across the city. One of the smartest government applications of social media I’ve yet seen. Bravo!

And here’s a tip for those of you without a twitter account: you can still read the latest update by going to http://twitter.com/ottawahealth. For previous updates, just scan down the page.

I’m pulling the big boys out of school and blowing off nap time (lord help us) on Wednesday afternoon to bring the kids in to get the H1N1 vaccine. Say a prayer to the god of short lineups and patient children for us, willya?

By the way, I was listening to CBC radio this morning, and Kathleen Petty was interviewing a local pediatrician (or maybe family doc) who had just won a prestigious award of excellence. They were talking, of course, about H1N1 and the doctor provided in just a few sentences the information that I’ve scoured hundreds of articles looking for. The main indications of *any* flu are cough and fever, plus at least one of sore joints, runny nose, etc. She said unless you have cough AND fever, emphasis on the “and”, you likely don’t have any kind of flu but if you do have (or, if your child has) both cough AND fever, you should be proactive about keeping your self/child home. Finally, a rule of thumb!


Thanks to everyone for your considered and considerate opinions on yesterday’s peanut butter toast post. I think that in the end, I agree with whomever suggested that the restaurant was certainly within its rights to honour the family’s request that no peanut butter be served, but that it would have been better handled had they informed people as they came in the door and not as their food was being served.

Edited to add: Please, if you haven’t already, read this comment from Jody. One of the most reasonable, well-informed comments I think I’ve ever read on the subject of peanut allergies. Thanks Jody!


I’m just putting the finishing touches on my giant annual list of local Christmas and Holiday parades! I love doing this post each year — and there are some exciting changes to the City of Ottawa parade this year. More soon – stay tuned!

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kathleen October 27, 2009 at 7:37 am

I was just commenting to my co-worker how impressed I was that City of Ottawa had installed a Twitter widget on the H1N1 clinic page so people could see what lineups were like… And they announced it on the radio.
Kudos indeed.
I managed to miss the lineups yesterday because I could get this up to date info, and will hope for the best later this week, like you. I ‘m trying the right-after-supper slot – likewise keep your fingers crossed!
Glad to hear there’s a list coming up of parades, and gladder still we’ll get some news on full day kindy garden.
Thanks for the round-up

2 XUP October 27, 2009 at 8:38 am

ParentCentral.ca says that Disney has agreed to reimburse Canadian and U.S. parents $15.99 per video through an extended return policy.

3 Haley-O (Cheaty) October 27, 2009 at 8:58 am

Shocking about the twitter account. NIICE! I’m still on the fence about the vaccine, but it looks like I have until next week to decide. I’m on the fence because my own pediatrician says NO — and you can imagine how that would stop you in your tracks, like, if your doctor that you TRUST (and who is SO PRO any other vaccine, including Flu) said no…. I’m seeing him in person Thursday, and we’ll see if he’s changed his tune. I am beyond conflicted!

And this Baby Einstein thing is the BIGGEST JOKE ever. That poor whatshername who created them…. It’s a smart, useful tool! It’s not guaranteed to create geniuses, no, but it’s better than a lot of crap that’s on TV and provides good opportunity to interact with your child, and TV. Bwah! Joke.

4 Haley-O (Cheaty) October 27, 2009 at 9:13 am

This just in: my doc is now apparently saying YES to the vaccine. Phew.

5 thordora October 27, 2009 at 9:27 am

My kids hated the one video that we bought. Can I have a refund for that? πŸ˜›

6 Karen October 27, 2009 at 9:31 am

Are you going to try to ‘sneak’ your oldest son (and yourself) in for the vaccine? I think its ridiculous, but they are not vaccinating the parents who are bringing in the small children, and school age children are also not supposed to get it yet.

7 Carly October 27, 2009 at 9:37 am

I hate Baby Einstein – ever since we were subjected to hour after hour of said DVD’s by our niece when she was 2 and we were childless, I vowed never to purchase one.

We braved the line-ups yesterday and got our vaccines. One for me (because I have asthma) and one for the Little Man. We debated a very long time over getting him vaccinated because although he also has asthma, he’s got an egg allergy too. His pediatrician said “no way” to having him vaccinated despite the fact that his allergy is not life threatening. His allergist said “sure, but only if I give it to him in a controlled environment, but we won’t get any vaccines until well into December” and my family doctor said “he’ll be fine – go to a clinic and get it right away”. Talk about confusing.

We arrived at 2:20pm and pulled number 521. Six hours later, we had gotten our shots and were on our way home. Thank heavens for snacks, colouring, toys and laptops with DVD’s!!!

The clinic was a zoo with people milling about everywhere and no instruction on what to do or how things would proceed. Eventually (after an hour or so) announcements were made and about half of the over 900 people left when nurses from Public Health made it clear that only children, pregnant women (I love how they keep qualifying pregnant WOMEN) and adults with underlying medical conditions would be vaccinated that day.

8 DaniGirl October 27, 2009 at 9:45 am

@Kathleen *smooch* (The non-germy kind, of course.)

@XUP – parentcentral.ca is probably quoting the CanWest story, but according to the actual Baby Einstein web site, they’re wrong. Canadians only get refund of DVDs purchased within the past 60 days and only with receipt.

@thodora — only if you migrate to the States! πŸ˜‰

@Cheaty — phew, one less thing to worry about! I was surprised to hear any doc recommending against it.

@karen — yep, am hoping they will take pity on us. BUT, I just heard yesterday that in fact for kids under 9 they will need a booster in a couple of weeks. Gah!

@Carly — portable DVD player? I love you, madly and deeply. Thank you for that idea!!!

9 Angela ( jhscrapmom) October 27, 2009 at 10:51 am

Prayer being said for short lineups. Having received the vaccination yesterday, in Orleans ( which appears to have been the best choice of locations for yesterday), I can give you our quick rundown. We were #’s 117-121 and it took us 2 hours and 20 minutes from start to finish. And they only started at #46:). Bring toys and snacks and get there early. Have your health card, a driver’s license and a pen – the registration is what slowed everyone down.

There were many computer glitches yesterday, the volunteers/health care workers were struggling with the computers. They had support there quickly, but it was not seamless – things should go much more smoothly today and for the rest of the week. They really did not ask if you were in any of the high risk groups, btw. They accepted everyone.

My arm hurts like a bitch. Flu shots always seem to ( this is our 8th year of flu shots). My daughter and I seem to be suffering more than the boys in our family;). The baby? well, he got off without one…but that just freaks me out worse:((. I had to tell my housekeeper today that if she did not get a vaccination, we were going to have to let her go:((. She is going to the early clinics in our area ( Friday and saturday in Cornwall…but may be starting earlier and accepting students as a high risk group now as well), as a caregiver to a child who can not be vaccinated, as she has regular and loving:)) contact with the baby.

And Dani, thank you for deleting my comment the other day. I can talk about it now:((. It is my girlfriend’s daughter who passed away on saturday from H1N1. She was an awesome kid – beautiful and athletic and funny and quirky and imaginative. She loved to dance and dress up and play…we are so very heartbroken here. She was a healthy child, taken out by this freaking virus. It will not hit everyone this hard…my son had it several weeks ago and recovered well ( but was as sick as he has ever been – he is 13 ) – but the uncertainty is simply overwhelming. And terrifying. I still can’t believe this has happened to a child…and THIS child. It is incomprehensible to me.

I understand people are fearful of the what has been described as the “unknown” about this flu shot. I respect that fear. Noone wants to make a choice that they think puts their child at risk.

But knowing now, first hand, what can and has happened if it grabs hold of your child? I am sorry. The reality is just too harsh.

I am off to read Jody’s post now, to distract myself from crying. Thanks for a place to talk Dani.

10 Chantal October 27, 2009 at 10:53 am

I am going to go to the KRC tomorrow aft to get myself and M vaccinated. I am a bit annoyed that D can’t get his but he can go with his father when the next round starts. It certainly was an interesting twitter discussion yesterday (and continuing today).

11 DaniGirl October 27, 2009 at 11:03 am

Angela, I have lost track of how many times I’ve said in the past few days to you that my heart is breaking for you guys. Thank you for coming back to comment again, and thank you for the huge compliment of finding this a safe place to talk. I’m deeply honoured, and still deeply saddened for you and your friends.

12 Mad Hatter October 27, 2009 at 11:25 am

Young children do need two shots a minimum of three weeks apart. I reckon that by the time my daughter needs her followup booster, they’ll be able to give me my one-time poke.

13 L_e_e_ October 27, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Thanks @DaniGril: If you / child has both cough AND fever, be proactive about keeping your self/child home. http://bit.ly/4tP4T5

14 Windex October 27, 2009 at 8:06 pm

It was great about the twitter updates – I am going to try with my four young children tomorrow – hoping the lines are good!

Totally disagree with the timing of the full-day kindergarten – Ontario so can not afford this….unless he can implement the whole plan don’t bother with just partial plan.

Hilarious about the Baby Einstein videos – never heard about the refund….hilarious

15 Mary @ Parenthood October 28, 2009 at 11:50 am

Hi Dani,

We did the flu shot thing on Monday (and blogged about it – http://parenthood.phibian.com/). You’ve probably already left for your clinic but based on our experience Tom Brown wasn’t a bad place to go. FWIW, people who showed up towards the end had much shorter wait times than people who lined up before the doors opened. I know the media is reporting that they close off the line but at least on Monday at Tom Brown that wasn’t strictly true. If I had to do it over, I’d try arriving around 8pm and joining the end of the line. But maybe they’ve become more strict now, so it would be a gamble.

Elizabeth (8 months tomorrow) got her shot in the thigh and reacted the least to it compared to all shots received to date. She was pretty sleepy and a bit cranky the next day – slept four hours straight! (She is normally a 45 minute napper). But didn’t seem to restrict her movements or object to pressure where she had the injection unlike her parents who feel a bit like we’re at the tail end of recovering from a very severe flu.

The second shot is “recommended” after a minimum of 21 days because they only give children a half dose at a time. There is some evidence coming out that the second half dose may not be necessary, so I’m planning to revisit the recommendations in 20 days or so.

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