I got a flu shot last week. Answered a few questions, rolled up my sleeve, took the needle in my arm and joked about maybe getting a lollipop.
No lollipop was forthcoming. The whole experience proved as transactional as a trip through a fast-food drive-thru.
Will I get the flu this year? No idea. But I did my precautionary part.
Some Americans have an aversion to science these days. Maybe folks have seen the shifty doings at Hawkins Labs on the series “Stranger Things” and don’t trust researchers who might get them mixed up with a Demogorgon.
Climate scientists warn that global temperatures have warmed to the point that coastal cities will soon occupy space among the seaweed.
Suspicious souls don’t buy it, though never citing why so many scientists would invest themselves and their careers into make-believe, what they would have to gain by a falsehood.
Let’s wait and see how this plays out, the doubters say. In the meantime, polar bears have begun wearing cargo shorts.
Every year, I get a flu shot. I am not in a high-risk group for the flu, not younger than 5 or older than 65, not pregnant or in a long-term care facility. I have no chronic medical conditions. I have no metabolic disorders.
Rather, I’m just a guy with a measure of trust and a knowledge that I’ve survived worst things in my bloodstream than the tiny bit of serum these dedicated shot givers – inoculators? vaccinators? – introduce into my system.
My evangelism in this case might seem lukewarm, especially compared to the real adherents. Salesmanship, at least in my mind, does not extend to fluids inserted into the bodies of others; I make my decision and let the masses thrive or grow fevered with theirs.
With that libertarian disclaimer, I find it a mystery that people with smartphones and cars that signal lane intrusions grow wistful for the good old days of viral epidemics.
During the last flu season, about 45 percent of Americans 18 and older got vaccinations, with the number higher (63 percent) for children 6 months through 17 years.
Public health officials and elected officeholders have launched a full-court press to raise the flu-shot participation. In Missouri last week, Gov. Mike Parson and First Lady Teresa Parson got their flu shots in front of cameras in hopes of setting an example.
“One very powerful way we discussed to increase vaccinations is for leaders of organizations to personally demonstrate the importance by being vaccinated themselves,” Dr. Randall Williams, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services director, said of the public-relations effort.
The last flu season ran particularly long, up to 21 weeks nationwide, and Missouri had about 77,000 laboratory-positive cases. The state’s northwestern region had 16,366 cases.
Polls taken about the lack of flu-shot participation generally top out with responses like “don’t need it” and “didn’t get around to it” and “don’t believe in flu vaccines.”
The area of distrust seems most intriguing. If the government attempts mind control through better health, I find the cunning to be strangely benevolent.
In the 2016 presidential election, the participation by voting-age Americans was 55.5 percent. (This is different than voter-registration turnout.) A lesser percentage takes part in getting flu shots.
In other words, people in a nation priding itself on individualism take part in greater measure electing someone distant from their well-being while being less likely to do something directly affecting their health.
It’s something to consider as the season of coughing approaches.