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October 07, 2004

A Shot Across The Bow

We're running out of flu shots. It's been part of the daily conversation at my house for a week now, thanks to the way the Internet regularly discovers the important news stories a day or so before they get noticed by the MSM. The Sainted Wife and I have been prepared to give up our shots and just get Ngnat and Scotty M inoculated, but now I've found out that;

Health care workers can't legally bar insistent, lower-risk patients from getting shots but will try to persuade them to do otherwise.

"Every person of average risk who gets a shot is taking a shot away from someone who really needs it," France said.

The American Public Health industry is asking me to give up my shot so that someone at greater risk of catching the flu can get it instead. But if I insist, I get one anyway. This presents me with a dilemma.

I can forego the shot, increasing the general risk to the members of my family while decreasing the specific risk to whatever stranger gets my shot, or I can insist on getting my shot, thus reducing the general risk to my family at the expense of a total stranger.

I know what Jesus would do, but I ain't Jesus. When it comes to the possibility of introducing a highly contagious, virulent disease into my household, I'm more along the lines of Howard Hughes. Not to mention that the use of the term "high risk" bothers me, in that it seems to refer to those most susceptible to dying from the flu, rather than the individuals who would seem to be at most risk of spreading it.

It's as if, given only one dose of vaccine, health officials decided to inoculate one of her victims instead of Typhoid Mary.

To be completely fair, in this case some of those at most risk of spreading the flu are on the short list of those be vaccinated, but it doesn't go far enough.

Children 6-23 months old, people 65 and older, people with underlying or chronic medical problems, pregnant women, nursing home residents, health-care workers who care for people at high risk of flu complications, child-care workers who take care of children under age 2, and children who take aspirin.

Vaccinate not just health-care workers who care for people at high risk of flu complications, but all health care workers. Vaccinate not just child-care workers who take care of children under age 2, but all child care workers. If there's any vaccine left over, vaccinate the police, airline stewardesses, and anyone who spends a lot of time encountering the masses. Every disease my family has encountered over the last four years came from a child care center, so use the children's vaccine supply to vaccinate kids in day care and at school first, and the ones with the stay-at-home moms last.*

Don't vaccinate the elderly Mrs. Jones, who only goes out once a week to do her shopping, and don't vaccinate me, the guy who sits in front of a computer all day long, the guy who can work from home for days at a time if he needs to.

I'll give up my shot, wash my hands a lot and take my chances if I'm convinced that the aim of the public health officials is to prevent or limit the spread of the flu as much as possible. But if instead they're trying to keep as many 70-year-old asthmatics alive as possible, then the hell with them. I'm getting my shot.

Update: It is possible to please both myself and the 70 year old asthmatics, assuming I can get a FluMist appointment from the clinic.

*Yes, my plan would actually put Scotty M at a lower priority for shots than he is now, but public health planning is not supposed to concern itself with individuals.

Posted by Bigwig at October 7, 2004 01:17 PM | TrackBack
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I got mine a couple of weeks ago, you waited too long!

Posted by: AL at October 7, 2004 02:52 PM

I know that they prefer to inoculate teachers. Me, I'll take my flu and grump in bed if necessary. As I've only gotten it about once every five years since high school, I'm not exactly worried.

Posted by: B. Durbin at October 8, 2004 05:52 PM

Don't forget antiviral drugs like amantadine & rimantadine, they will work for many people. They will sometimes prevent the flu if taken at the time of exposure, and they will mitigate the effects of the disease once it starts. The catch is they must be taken early on, if you wait to get an appointment with your doctor, it will be too late by the time you see one.

Posted by: Tresho at October 9, 2004 02:46 AM

A couple of weeks ago, the company I work for decided to set up a flu clinic for interested employees, at a nominal cost. We had to have s minimum number of employees interested for the nurse to come out and administer the shots. Since then the announcement of the shortage was made.

I figured the company would decide to forego the clinic or at least limit it to the more elderly of the employees. Nope, Thursday they sent out an email with the date of the clinic and urging everyone to participate.

Me, I've never had a flu shot and didn't plan on getting one this time. I've only had the flue once or twice, so I figure I'll let those more at risk have mine.

Posted by: bogie at October 9, 2004 12:44 PM
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