Even though I was scared and I hate needles, I went out and got the flu shot. I waited until mid-October like Fauci suggested, so I’ll still be covered through the end of flu season. This year it matters more, for several reasons.
More interestingly, it turns out there are reasons to get the flu shot besides the obvious.
Oh, wait, what are the obvious reasons? For all my women readers who start doing the Russian Cat No and wildly shaking their heads back and forth whenever the topic comes up? (Why it’s women I have no idea, since we tend to be so healthy and smart in most other ways).
I used to be a flu shot refuser, too. Until the year my husband got his shot at work and I “never got around to it.” (Read: chronic procrastinator). I got the flu and he didn’t. I was sick as a dog for eight days and he was totally fine. All right! All right! Fine! I’ll get the dang flu shot.
I’ve been doing it every year since then, and it’s been completely okay. I don’t even get needle reaction anymore, not since I started doing martial arts.
That’s my obvious reason. Obviously I would rather do almost anything than ever have the flu like that again. Honestly, if that injection was full of mercury, high fructose corn syrup, gluten, cat hair, ragweed pollen, depleted uranium, and bedbug particles, I’d still get it. It works!
People be drinking Mountain Dew and eating fast food and then worrying about what’s in half a milliliter of a highly tested vaccine.
The next most obvious reason to get the flu shot is that I have the ability and others don’t. I do it for my blessed mother-in-law who passed. She battled lymphoma no fewer than five times. When she was on chemo, she couldn’t get the flu shot, and influenza could have taken her down. Anyone who wears one of those pink ribbons, I hope you demonstrate your commitment in a practical way by doing one of the few things that could actually help a real live cancer patient live to fight another day.
Babies too. An infant too little to get the shot might die from flu, but I won’t. I could never have kids of my own, but I can help protect other people’s. Auntie power.
There’s a third obvious reason, and that is that we truly can’t afford to have influenza and COVID-19 circulating at the same time. It’s our responsibility to get the vaccine for the one, since there’s no way to get a vaccine for the other yet.
The same people who are honking and braying about “herd immunity” for COVID better shut up until they can demonstrate that they got their flu shot. You like herd immunity so much, prove it.
Or wait. Were you actually saying that you’re pro-humans dying like flies from contagious disease? Pro-plague? Pro-mass death?
This stuff matters. Getting the flu shot is not the same thing as voting, or... or flossing. It’s not just another preachy thing that people want to peer pressure each other about.
I’m the same way about the flu shot as ex-smokers are about cigarettes. I’m mad at Past Me for being a big dumb chicken - and then getting the flu when I didn’t have to - and I wish I could go back in time and tell all this stuff to my own self.
Okay, so, I promised I would talk about why there are bonus reasons to get the flu shot now. I shall henceforth. Tarry no longer. Et cetera.
New research indicates that getting the flu shot can lower your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.
When I read that, I about fell over. Avoiding Alzheimer’s is my organizing principle. It’s my sole health motivator. If only this had been demonstrated 20 years ago!
Check it out. Get the flu shot one single time, over the age of 60, and it lowers your risk of Alzheimer’s 17%. Getting the flu shot every year, most years, adds up to an additional 13% lowering of risk.
I don’t need to know why. If it’s even a loose correlation, I’m doing it. Like I said, even if the injection was full of, like, grass clippings and rusty nails, I’m rolling up my sleeve. Wait an hour if I have to.
Wait, there’s more!
Getting the flu shot can also lower your risk of heart attack.
What?? Why??? Nobody told me that!
A lot of people who are nervous about vaccination want things to be “natural.” There’s this idea that industrial things from the 20th century are toxic, anything from food additives to pervasive exposure to plastics and environmental pollution. Hey, I agree with all of that 100%. I actually ate, for dinner just now, a large quantity of organic kale produced by community-supported agriculture.
It’s just that I have a degree in history, and I know that contagious diseases have been the greatest scourge of humanity since before written records were kept.
We’ve benefited from this. Longevity has doubled in the past 200 years. This is partly because far more children live into adulthood, and partly because it’s far more common for adults to become centenarians. People are much taller on average because far fewer people suffered devastating fevers in childhood. We owe a significant debt to vaccination programs for all of this - yes, “we,” even the refusers, those who might not indulge in social loafing in any other context.
I got the flu shot, and I was glad to do it, even though I was petrified to walk into the clinic. I wore a double-layer fabric mask and a plastic face shield. I was in and out of there in under 10 minutes. For the first time, the injection itself was the least of my worries.
You know what, though? After almost dying of COVID-19 this spring, I was thrilled to sit up in the chair and get that injection, a sign of life, a short sharp pain I wouldn’t have felt as a ghost in the afterlife. This is borrowed time, this life of ours, and it is a good thing to use our time toward significant and meaningful acts.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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