Shots in the dark


Can I say, “I told you so” yet?

I don’t care, I’m going to say it anyway. I told you so.

Over the years I’ve been yelled at, had people tell me that, “I’m endangering others because I’m being selfish, blah blah blah,” and all that other stuff. But, in this case, I was right, and I told you so. I told you flu shots didn’t work.

According to a new study, the shot is only 59 percent effective. In my case, however, I would put it at about, oh, 0 percent. That’s a 100 percent track record for getting the flu during the seasons when I’ve gotten a flu shot.

I’m not talking about a few sniffles. These were legitimate upper-respiratory infections that knocked me out for days at a time. In fact, the last time I got a flu shot, I got the H1N1 swine flu. Sure, there wasn’t “technically” a shot for H1N1, but that’s splitting hairs on my chinny-chin-chin. Since I’ve gotten a flu shot this year, I fully anticipate getting sick at some point. I’m assuming it will be near Christmas. I’ll more than likely have some stupid story to go with it. But until science can get that flu-shot “effectiveness” number up to around 80 percent, I think that this year might be my last shot for a while.

I know that last statement is going to rub some people wrong. I always get guff from someone when I say I’m not getting a flu shot, but for the record, I’m not getting one for a legitimate — and now proven — reason.

I don’t really have a problem with the idea of vaccinations. I’m not one of those conspiracy theorists that think they are there for some sinister mind-control means, but I have had bad luck with needles. Just ask any nurse who’s ever tried to draw my blood. Not only do my veins run and hide, but I do, too, depending on the size of the needle, I do too. Doesn’t make me a crazy person, just difficult.

So how do you protect yourself from the seasonal flu if the shot is basically a gamble? Well, I’ve got a few suggestions the AMA can feel free to use if they really want to convince people to keep getting flu shots and not turn into basement-dwelling shut-ins like myself who don’t see the sun for months at a time during winter.

First, I would suggest bribery. Not the literal, illegal, form we are familiar with, but I’m talking about the “tasty” kind. Take a note from the Red Cross and give out cookies. Sure, they say that it’s because you just donated a lot of blood and it helps replenish whose-its and whats-its, but I’m not buying it. Cookies are delicious, and even I, someone who curses the man who invented the needle, might even donate one of these days, if the right cookie is offered.

If cookies are not your thing, maybe a good viral-video campaign would do the trick. You know the ones. The ones with unbearably cute baby animals doing unbearably cute things, then they look at you with those big, unbearably cute eyes, and the message comes across the screen, “Get a flu shot, or you’ll make this puppy whine,” or something like that.

And if all else fails, just slap a lower-case “i” at the beginning of it. People don’t seem to have a problem purchasing the same “i-thing” year after year, and they are willing to wait in long lines overnight just to be the first person to get one.


Chris Hamble is a freelance writer and humor columnist serving newspapers in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and is a lifelong Stillwater resident.