Kerby: Why not a flu shot?

Steve Kerby, Staff Columnist

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Hey, you. Yeah, you. Go get your flu shot. It’s free, quick, painless and totally safe.

What a mundane, simple suggestion. Don’t we have more important things to worry about? The Observer is otherwise filled with seriously important reporting on our campus and community, and opinion pieces can tackle important debates, including celebrity crushes. Compared to the latest bilge emanating from the Oval Office, is the flu shot truly important? We’ve got other sorts of shots to worry about at Case Western Reserve University, including “projectile lead” and “salt+lime.” Thanks folks, I’m here all night.

What’s that, you say? No one dies from the flu anyway?

That’s where you’re wrong.

According to the Center for Disease control, tens of thousands of Americans, many of them children, die due to influenza or complications thereof each year. The CDC reports that 80 percent of pediatric deaths related to the flu are in unvaccinated children.  The flu vaccine can save your life.

Imagine it’s a superhero origin story. Instead of building a nuclear-powered exoskeleton or getting bitten by a radioactive spider, an unsuspecting college student gets poked with a needle of viral matter. Then, our protagonist wakes up a few weeks later with higher resistance to disgusting diseases. Call Marvel Studios, we’ve got a thriller on our hands.

So there you have it. Getting a flu shot is free, and it only takes three minutes. It’s the sort of scientific genius that our ancestors a few centuries ago would consider black magic, and that’s reason enough to get your flu shot.  You can set up the appointment in five minutes with University Health Service.

Suppose you wouldn’t mind getting sick and missing a class or two. Surely, you shouldn’t bother with the flu vaccine, right?

Wrong again. When you’re vaccinated, you can’t be an incubator for the flu. You can protect little children whose parents haven’t vaccinated them. You can also protect folks who have medical reasons for not being able to take the vaccine. If you don’t have a problem with coughing and sneezing and vomiting for a week, at least you can help save someone’s life by just getting the vaccine.

Imagine that a few people had unstoppable sneezing fits upon seeing the color orange. Not cute little sneezes, I’m talking artillery-barrage type sneezes, nonstop for hours. In their dorm room, in the dining halls, during a midterm exam … wouldn’t that be annoying in the middle of a midterm exam?

Now imagine that the sneezing-upon-seeing-orange is needing protection from the flu but not being able to get the vaccine, not wearing orange is getting a vaccine. We wouldn’t demand that everyone with orange-sneeze syndrome walk around blindfolded, we would just banish the color orange.

So, go get your flu shot. Other people are counting on you to protect everyone. The more people get vaccinated the stronger our communal protection will be. If vaccination rates drop, though, previously controlled diseases can make a comeback.

Can you guess which malady is back? I’ll take “Surprise! It’s the Measles” for 300, Alex Trebek. According to a recent report in Vox by Julia Belluz, the outbreaks in New York City and other cities are striking hardest in unvaccinated demographics. The crisis has only been exacerbated by parents who refuse to vaccinate their children based on holistic, non-scientific advice.

Getting a vaccine is a little superpower, but it’s not just about you. You can be real hero by protecting the thousands of people around you.  If we all work together, if we all get vaccinated, we can make sure that another generation won’t suffer from the ailments that struck so many in the past.  

If that doesn’t make you want to get the vaccine, I don’t know what will.

Steve Kerby is a fourth-year student studying astronomy and physics. He is Lawful Neutral during work hours, but after 5 p.m. tends towards Chaotic Good.