As much as I find stories like this the apex of “OH GOD WHAT ABOUT MY CHILDREN” ninnyism, the Powers That Be only have themselves to blame that nobody is giving their kid a flu shot. Sure, part of the reason is due to dangerously-ill-informed numbskulls like Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy (who would rather have you listen to them than someone who spent eight years in med school) but pharmaceutical companies have not exactly been bastions of trust.
I get the feeling people would be a lot less squeamish about vaccination if it weren’t contained in a needle that gets thrust into your skin. The mere act of impalement, no matter how small, creates fear that is rooted in our caveman ancestry and came of age during the frickin’ jousts of the Middle Ages. If the flu vaccine was a jello shot, we wouldn’t be having this little chat.
But let’s look at recent history – as of a few months ago, your Tylenol dosage is suddenly all wrong, the estrogen therapy my mom was on back in the ’90s was classified as “cancer-causing” by the WHO, and apparently the Vioxx that I occasionally took after hoops was givin’ folks heart attacks. Companies do whatever the hell they want, whenever the hell they want, with only an actuarial table standing between their product and your untimely demise – I don’t say this as an enraged McLeftyShorts with a macramé dreamcatcher helmet, I say it with the acceptance of someone who gives thanks for the warning, but will storm the castle anyway.
The flu vaccine safety record is unparalleled. It’d be awesome for everyone to get the shot and create a herd immunity every winter, even if the term “herd” isn’t all that inspiring. I certainly got my flu shot at Target last week, the same day Lucy did the FluMist spray (full disclosure: most of the spray ended up on the pediatrician’s ceiling, as my daughter’s lungs and will power are not easily sublimated).
The Times did an excellent Q&A piece on the two flu vaccines, but I doubt there’s much wiggle room among American parents – either you’re going to do it or you aren’t. I will say two contradictory things to sum up my feelings, however: first off, if companies in general treated human beings as something more than feed cattle with wallets, those people might be slightly more inclined to believe their products were safe. Secondly, my doctor and I think I had the swine flu in May, and let me tell you that it MOTHERFUCKING SUCKS.