Go get your flu shot.

I’m gonna forgoe my usual cutsey headline this time and be straight to the point. The Fed says there’s plenty of flu vaccine for everyone these year, for the first time in a while. So go get the shot. The flu kills a bunch of people 36,000 people in the US every year, and while they are primarily the very old or very young – and you may be neither – there’s still two excellent reasons to get the shot anyway.

One, having the flu sucks. It hurts and is no fun, uses up time off work that would be better served playing hooky with your loved one on a beautiful day, and leaves those of us who did get the shot at the office taking up your slack. Or worse, giving all your cow orkers your bug because you’re too goddamned type-A to stay home.

Which brings us to Two, every person who gets the bug because they didn’t get the shot is one more potential vector to pass on the virus to those old and young people who are gonna croak from it. This is a definite example of “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” In the words of my hero, John McClane, quit being a part of the f***ing problem!

The excellent website Find a Flu Shot will help you find a location and time near you.

Personally I’m gonna angle for the Costco since they’re nice and cheap at $18, but there’s a lot of sites to choose from. If anyone’s got information on free or reduced cost shots you can email me or post them in a comment here. I’ll try to highlight any best-of suggestions. That Costco poster claims that if you have Medicare Part B and no HMO coverage they’ll even bill for you, which I assume means you walk out without paying a dime. Can someone back that up?

4 Comments so far

  1. ghina (unregistered) on October 6th, 2006 @ 8:54 am

    or don’t get one, unless you can confirm there is no thimerasol used as a preservative. Any mercury is too much mercury.

  2. Don (unregistered) on October 6th, 2006 @ 10:37 am

    I don’t agree at all that any mercury is too much mercury and unless you don’t eat any fish at all, neither do you. Thiomersal (the actual name of the product you are concerned about) contains no more than 50 micrograms in a 0.5mL dose and often 1/2 that or even 1 microgram if it was added in the manufacturing stage. (http://www.fda.gov/cber/vaccine/thimfaq.htm#q7)

    If you’re prone to conspiracy theories, as many consumers of junk science tend to be, you can look at a comparison done by the Harvard Medical School talking about tuna consumption by pregnant mothers. They concluded that the results suggest that the nutritional benefits of fish outweigh the effects of mercury.

    By the way – that can of tuna often contains up to 50 micrograms of mercury. Of course they’re not the same kinds of mercury – thiomersal uses ethylmercury where the industrial pollutants the fish are bio-accumulating are methylmercury. Ethylemercury seems to dissapate more rapidly, though there’s some indication that it may be marginally more destructive in doing so. So yeah, if you had to pick between 50 micrograms of one or the other, you’d be better off with the methylmercury from the fish.

    But it’s not a choice. What is a choice is whether you’re going to acknowledge that in life there are things that have both a good and bad element to them. In the extreme camp you have things like chemotherapy, where you beat the living hell out of everything in your body, including cancer. If you’re fortunate, you come out of that unpleasant process still alive but cancer free. General anesthetic has a risk of damaging you but if the alternative is passing on life-saving surgery, you use it. That vaccine that exposes you to a small amount of mercury might save your life.

    The smart thing isn’t to pass on the vaccine. The smart thing is to get it, skip the tuna fish that week so you keep your total mercury intake low, and support the development and use of alternatives to thiomersal. If you’re looking to get protection for a child in its first few years of life – the highly-debated ‘sweet-spot’ for autism development that people are pointing fingers at thiomersal for – then maybe you look at other alternatives like inhaled vaccine or see if you can find the flu vaccine where it’s been distributed in a single-use form, where thiomersal isn’t used.

    But don’t be scared off from the vaccine as an adult by junk science or poor risk-reward comparisons.

  3. ghina (unregistered) on October 6th, 2006 @ 10:51 pm

    “that’s right Gilligan” just get the shot without thimerasol.

  4. jgregory (unregistered) on October 10th, 2006 @ 11:50 am

    Flu shot handled. Painless. Thanks for the reminder.

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