Friday, October 22, 2004


I just read an article stating that 36,000 people yearly die of influenza. This statistic startled me, because I had joined the rest of the fact, the mourning the deaths of some 3,000 in the World Trade Center bombing. Thirty-six thousand people yearly is twelve times the number that died in the WTC...annually! And, while President Bush and his administration pride themselves in their stance against terror, they seem to have done little or nothing to avoid this Flu Vaccine shortage.

Of course, Bush is saying it is because manufacturers want to avoid litigation (interpretation - litigation -lawyers-Democrats- Edwards - Kerry). But, the truth is, the pharmaceutical houses want big profits and flu vaccine is a paltry, cheap item, hardly worth bothering with. Why should they concentrate on flu vaccine at its low price, when they can advertise pills that cost a hundred bucks apiece? You do the Math.

Of course, there have been lawsuits over the flu vaccine. There have been lawsuits over every vaccine. There have been lawsuits over automobiles, swimming pools, washing machines, etc. But the argument that all lawsuits are frivolous is in the reality of just how close your relationship is to that person drooling in mindless misery in that wheelchair. While SOME lawsuits are frivolous, ALL lawsuits are not...and without lawyers to confront large corporations, consumers are at the mercy of companies when it comes to manufacturing reliable products. Limiting pain and suffering awards to $250,000 is like handing permission to these large corporations to continue to sell merchandise that can maim or kill.

I am 74 years old, within the guidelines of those on top of the list to get the Flu Vaccine...following Congressmen, of course, who must have been designated Highest Risk. I ran into a line the other day that extended for what seemed like miles. There they were, the grey-haired and grizzly, with crutches, wheelchairs and walkers, standing patiently in this long line. It was chilly outside, a typical Michigan miserable autumn day. Not one of those gloriously golden days of fall, of which we are given so few, but one of the grey, drizzling, depressing reminders of the winter to come. And along with winter, inevitably, is the fear of flu.

But I decided, looking at that line, to risk the Grim Flu Reaper, and forego a flu shot, even if one were available. I have lived a long life and a good life. If I become a statistic this year, perhaps that statistic is inevitable. Of course, every day my life is extended is a bonus, even the drizzly fall days. Don't think I don't appreciate every breath I draw without the onslaught of that last terminal weakness. I do. But my decision to stop looking for a flu shot can be attributed to my lifelong aversion to standing in lines.

In my time, I have stood in countless medical clinics, a sick baby in my arms; in weather crises, when getting a bag of dry ice meant saving a winter's supply of food; in department store sales, trying to obtain a clothing item at a discount price....etc. etc. But one of the joys of having your children raised and retirement from the working world is the knowledge that, as a Senior Citizen, you never have to stand in a line again.

This is a recognized fact. This is why we are mailed Absentee Ballots. Those candidates know we are not supposed to stand in lines. This is why we wait for the film to come out in video stores, because we will not stand in line at the marquee. Standing in line leads to varicose veins and bladder problems. Like having children, it is for the very young.

So, this year, I am gambling. Like putting my life savings, pitiable amount that it is, on a table in Vegas, the stakes are high. But the odds are with me, and it is a chance I will take. And, somewhere in this country, a sweet, pink, bouncing stretching ahead of him like an golden ribbon...will be getting my flu shot, the one I didn't stand in line to get.

Blogger Becky said...

I have never gotten a flu shot, but that's because I've always felt like the flu was just a part of winter if I was so unlucky as to catch it (a side effect of being young I suppose). To me, facing a needle or facing the flu seems an easy choice - give me a runny nose and aching body any day, just keep that needle away from me!

Until I began working at the bank I hadn't gotten sick in quite a long time, and it seemed like handing all that gross money and being so close to so many different people on a daily basis was just the sort of invitation viruses needed. I got sick more in my two years at the bank than I had been for the five years before. So my conclusion is that we don't really need flu shots. We should just sanitize our money and stand five feet away from everyone, Lysol should come in travel sizes, maybe even with a sting so you can tie it around your neck, and we should all have proximity meters on our belts to warn us if someone has entered our five foot buffer zone. They now make those air fresheners that spit out bursts of freshness, someone needs to make a hat that will do the same thing - except instead of freshness, it would spit bursts of sanitizer. Anything but a needle!

11:11 AM  

Post a Comment