You may have heard of this little bug going around called H1N1, or more disgustingly, swine flu. Midwestern pig ranchers, or whatever they’re called, prefer we stick to the more ominous string-of-letters form of disease identification because they claim “swine flu” is hurting their business. Perhaps — but I have yet to hear of one person letting some dumb bug stand between them and their bacon.
Be that as it may, I heartily do not want to come down with a virus most of my species has yet to encounter and therefore there’s no herd immunity. So my entire clan arose at dawn and hauled butt down to a local high school for a mass inoculation, administered free courtesy of the Fayette County Health Department, AKA, your federal tax dollars at work.
Here you see the scene.
The health department announced the shots would be available beginning at 9 am. I live approximately 1.5 minutes by car from this school, and so about 8 o’clock we loaded up the Prius and did a quick zip over there.
There were cars, cars, cars as far as they eye could see. Every few feet people stood to direct vehicles and, once we were parked, to herd us toward the entrance. Once inside, more CAUTION tape funneled us toward our doom.
Which is how this one was seeing it. No he wasn’t interested in avoiding a potentially deadly disease, a hospital stay, coma, pneumonia or any other dire consequences of contracting H1N1. No, he just didn’t want a shot, poor lamb — the news of which I had avoided as long as possible to ward off just such a moment.
And so we herded along like that a while and then, aburptly, the line stopped. Time read 8:20 am. We all sat down and I broke out the breakfast bars and the Clementines (oh, and by the way — YUM) and we settled in for a wait. A woman from the health department then started working the line, passing out our registration cards which, interestingly, turned out to be printed in Spanish on the side which required our names, addresses, etc. Fortunately, a form is a form is a form and we more or less could figure out what was required of us — and we had additional fortification in the person of Claire, who is mostly fluent in Spanish after nine years of it in school now.
We settled in to wait. Food had been dispensed and Nintendo DS’es extracted from various pouches and backpacks. We were parked and ready for a long wait and then — lo and behold! A doctor with a loud booming voice swept by with the glad tidings that the flu shots would soon commence! We arose and began the long march to the gym, there to meet our destiny at the end of a needle.
Why the term “swine flu” anyway? For a little clarity, let us turn to the New York Times, which published this article last spring.
Researchers say that based on its genetic structure, the new virus is without question a type of swine influenza, derived originally from a strain that lived in pigs. But the experts are still sorting out how long ago it infected pigs and how much it might have mutated when it jumped to humans.
“It’s fair to say that at some point the virus passed through a pig,” said Dr. Paul A. Offit, an infectious disease expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It could have been months; it could have been years ago.”
Even if pigs were the original source of the disease, experts said they did not appear to be playing any role in its transmission now. The virus is passing from person to person, they said, most likely by the spread of respiratory droplets.
It’s amazing to me that anyone would think you could get it by eating pork; that’s like thinking chicken pox is spread through chowing down at KFC.
And so we, untroubled by misinformation, sallied forth into the inoculation arena and took our medicine. It was quick, painless and efficient — at least for four of us. Trassie, remembering his seasonal flu shot from a couple months ago, set up in an impressive wail that lasted until we’d all been stabbed and shuffled over to the Wait and See area.
Things were much happier here.
And certainly by the time Mario and Luigi came out to play, we were, you might say, in hog heaven.