Ink & Bourbon
Tilting at windmills. Because those windmills think they're better than us.

Ask a Bitter Medic: Vaccinations

I’d like to talk about some facts versus folk wisdom and pseudoscience about vaccinations, and flu shots in particular.

“But the flu shots just makes me sick,” you say. “Why take a shot that makes me sick?”

A fair question, and one that is easily answered, but we’re all too damn overworked, underfunded and harried to explain it, plus, we hear any anti-vaccine stuff and we just roll our eyes and punch a wall, pretending it’s Jenny McCarthy. 

Now, I know Ms McCarthy has tried to make amends for her crimes against public health by posing again in Playboy, and we’re grateful, but, Jenny, that’s not quite gonna cut it.

So, anyway, here goes:

The flu shot does not “make you sick.” It’s a dead virus. Your body recognizes the foreign invader and the body’s immune response can make you feel lousy. Fever, inflammation, nausea, these are all part of your body’s immune response.

The reaction to the flu shot lasts a day, and can be unpleasant. My five year old son got the shot and was cranky and achy for one evening. He coped, and HE’S FIVE.

The alternative is he maybe gets the flu.

Influenza is a highly contagious and dangerous disease. 250,000 to 500,00 people DIE worldwide each year from the flu.  Mostly older people, very young people and those with preexisting medical problems, but even the healthy flu sufferer will have severe symptoms for a week or two. And the flu sucks. You’re not limping in to work, like you have a cold. You are lying in bed with a high fever, praying for death’s sweet release.

Plus, once one member of the family has it, it will rage through the household like Chlamydia through a Christian Youth Bible Camp, and you lose a week’s sick time (or pay, if you’re one of us who doesn’t have all that much sick time) taking care of a sick kid while praying for death’s sweet release.

And if you follow Mitt’s advise and call an ambulance, we will take you to the ER, where they won’t be able to do a damn thing to cure the flu, but will subject everybody else to your germs, and run up a bill.

All the while, thinking “Why didn’t you just get the fucking shot?’

This has been a Public service announcement by Bitter Medics Against Pseudoscience. We return you to the internet.

Yeah, we kinda know we’re fighting a losing battle, but there ya go.

Lessons in being a Man.

Today we taught the boy about facing fears and overcoming obstacles.

Like rules.

We went to the park with lots and lots of slides. Now, it was a cloudy, muggy, lousy weekday, so the place was nearly empty. My five year old wanted to climb up the high, twisty slide after sliding down. Now, this is technically verboten

But it was awesome and huge and scary. It was, in his young mind, Everest. No way was I going to let something as pointless as The Rules take that way from him.

That said, there’s a reason they have that rule. It’s so we don’t have a six toddler pile up as some other kiddo comes barreling down and mows his young legs from under him. Although that is also part of growing up. So I explained why the rule says no climbing, and why it didn’t apply today and how we’re Men, and we were damn well going to climb that mother.

So now he both knows the heady rush adrenaline of overcoming you fear of heights, and that when confronted with a Rule, one should as “why?” if the answer is something like “So you don’t wind up breathing through a tube,” that’s a rule you should obey. If the answer is “because it Says So,” then you can get all Henry David Thoreau on its ass.