Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Swine Flu Vaccine

I just got a flu shot, thanks to the largesse of Wagner College. There is talk here, however, of the next vaccine we'll need, the one for Swine Flu, and the rumor is that the vaccine will give you almost as bad a case of swine flu as going without it. Now, if this turns out to be true, you would kind of think that this would defeat the whole purpose of submitting oneself to one of those nasty punctures in the upper arm. Ah, but this is where I beg to differ.

You see, the swine flu vaccine still serves a useful purpose, if you can determine precisely when you will contract the flu. For one thing, you can make plans for having the flu. In my case, I'd let to get it at about 5 pm on Wednesday, my busiest day, and then ease into a long weekend to weather the storm of the flu at its worst. Perhaps, emerging on Monday able to return to work, however listlessly, before taking another long weekend to see through the remnants of what is sure to be a lingering illness.

But consider this, by carefully timing the adminitration of the swine flu vaccination, you are freed of the stress and anxiety that accompanies the uncertainty of not knowing when you might catch it. And once it's past, that's it for the season. When everyone else is sweating out the flu season wondering if they will be struck by this debilitating sickness, you can enjoy yourself knowing you are protected. No worrying about who you shouldn't sit next to, no need for excessive hand washing, no time wasted reading about the dangers of an impending swine flu epidemic.

In a way, this vaccine is a small example of actually getting to know when and what the future will bring. Some call this hell; I call it, in this one isolated case, reassuring...


  1. I like your thinking. If you have to be sick, you might as well pick the time and get it over with. But, your premise is hogwash. There is no reason to think that the side effects from the H1N1 ('swine') flu vaccine will be any worse than those of the 'seasonal' flu vaccine you just received. None of the trials have reported any such reactions. As a precaution, a vast network of surveillance has been created to watch for unusual symptoms related to the vaccine, such as the problem with Guillain-Barre syndrome that occurred in association with the swine flu vaccination in 1976. But the most likely issue will be the classic fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc that often confounds medical studies. Lots of people get sick every day with a wide range of maladies. They have accidents and strange symptoms, too. When these things happen after a 'Swine Flu' vaccination, people will blame the vaccine, and Facebook is a lot faster than the scientific media. Add that to the well documented lack of sophistication about science and experimentation in the general population and the vaccine gets an undeserved bad rap even if it is savings lives and morbidity.

  2. Well said, db. As it happens, the NY Times has a piece on this very topic today, but does not capture it with anything like your concision.