I got a shot the other day. To avoid the swine flu. They made us fill out some forms that said there might be a "small chance" of side effects. "But hey," I said, "it's the government, right? And they protect us, right?"
This prompted several odd looks in my direction, since I was apparently talking to myself. I'm constantly surprised how often I get that look.
Anywho, I went up and took my shot. So did my wife. My kids took the nasal version, because they're a bunch of babies (plus when I started crying and then fainted after my shot, it might have affected them on some subconscious level).
And then the problems started. First it was itching. On my feet. I did that thing where you are too lazy to take off your shoe so you just try to rub your sole against something hard, then maybe stomp a few times, but it didn't work.
It also prompted more of those weird looks people were giving me. I also noticed several of them edging their fingers towards their cell phones like gunfighters in a saloon that they suspect someone just cheated at cards in.
But this isn't about my dreams of being a cowboy. It's about my feet. Focus, people!
Finally, I gave in and took off my shoes to scratch my feet. But to my amazement, the instant that I did so, the itching stopped. I put my shoes back on. The itching started again. I took them off. No itch.
I went immediately to the most obvious reason for this phenomenon: Voodoo curse. But then I realized something even more obvious: I was wearing leather shoes.
That's right, leather. As in, the skin of a pig. (Yes, I like patent pig-leather shoes. So sue me.)
And so I went and tested a theory: I went to a pickup football game and played a few innings (it's innings in football, right?). I didn't do too well, but I did get to "toss the ol' pigskin around." And guess what? Every time I touched the "pigskin," my hand got all itchy and I dropped the ball!
My teammates didn't believe that explanation, but I didn't care that they tossed me out of the game and told me never to come back or (direct quote) "We'll make sure you don't drop the ball by hot-glue-gunning it to your face."
Where these guys get hot glue guns, I don't know. But it didn't matter. I had found out what I needed from this pig-oriented sport.
Now, the ultimate test. I went to my fridge. I pried open some Farmer John bacon and... well... you know when you try to touch the wrong ends of a magnet together? How they push off each other no matter how hard you try to shove them together? That's what my fingers did with the bacon! No lie!
So I did some research. And guess what? There's no such thing as swine flu. It's all a hoax made up by the government. And after a little more research I discovered that "the government" is actually run by a shadow triumvirate of seven people who are all members of PETA.
And now it was really coming together. Avian virus? Swine flu? Aids from monkeys?
It's all a hoax to get us to take medications which will save animals! They're the ones benefiting from these crazy shots, not us! NOT US! And BTW, "To Serve Man"... is a cookbook. And soylent green is people.
All of which leads me to my real point. No, it's not that I'm crazy.
Actually, it's that some other people are.
Since the swine flu fears have arisen, I've heard a disturbing number of people talk about how dangerous it is to get the vaccine: more dangerous than not taking it would be. And most of the people I've heard saying that have had a kid in the shopping cart or a toddler on his/her hip. Which made me want to run screaming at them, grab the kids, and call Social Services.
Look, folks, the United States is one of the most medicinally anal-retentive countries in the world. I remember when I lived in Paraguay you could go into the equivalent of a Sav-On (albeit a Sav-On with only about 20 choices and flying cockroaches the size of a deck of cards), and just ask for Percocet or Vicodin like they were Pez... and you'd get 'em, no questions asked.
Other nations often have medicines available to them years before we do. Why? Perhaps it's because the biomed companies don't like the French, and so don't mind killing them off as part of a mass test of a product before releasing it in the US. But no, because the Swiss get those meds too, and really, who doesn't like the Swiss?
So the answer has to be that the US does not even allow vaccinations unless their benefit completely outweighs the disadvantages. And not by just a little: by a lot. People point to the polio vaccine as a counter-argument, because that vaccine did have a much higher than usual frequency of side-effects.
But it also a) was much safer than not being vaccinated, and b) wiped polio off the face of the earth.
Job well done, anyone?
So please, do your research. If you're worried about side effects of a vaccine, fine. You should be. But don't run around bragging about how you're saving your life and the lives of your children based on rumors from someone you overheard at the supermarket, or that idiot who blogs periodically and can't seem to stay focused on anything because - ooh, look, a bunny!
What was I saying?
Oh, yes. Get vaccinated. It's highly preferable to the alternative. Plus, if, for example, I was a large-ish guy and I found out that your kid got swine flu because you wouldn't let him/her get the shot, and your kid infected others, and one of those others was my best friend (who is an idiot and didn't get his swine flue shot)... I'd probably have to think about coming after you.
Just like a gunfighter in the old west.
It always comes down to the saloon, don't it, pardner...