I got a flu shot on Sunday.
It was only my second in 64 years.
The first time was 15 years ago. I got it not because I was worried about getting the flu, but because the public relations director at Doctors Hospital of Manteca thought it would be good to have a photo to go with a story on a free flu shot clinic I was doing for the Bulletin.
So I rolled up my sleeve and our photographer Hime Romero took a photo.
It had a lasting effect on me. Not because it prevented me from getting the flu which it may have or not. It was due to what my upper arm looked like.
I try not to be vain. But in this case when I saw my flabby arm I was mortified. The photo ran in the paper with the story. You couldn’t tell that it was my arm.
It did make me pay more attention to using weights to try and tone my arms. Given it is a work in progress the jury is still out.
My decision to get a flu shot for the second time in my life was not driven by fear of contracting COVID-19. I’m neither a fool nor arrogant. I realize there is a possibility I can get the coronavirus.
I realized I could get the flu. I’ve done so three times in my life. Rest assured it was miserable.
And while I’m on the cusp of what is considered a high risk group based on age, extra insurance that I might avoid getting the flu per se was not the motivator either.
My biggest concern is that I might get the flu and therefore force medical personal to treat it as if it may be COVID-19. In doing so, that would take precious resources from those that are ill from COVID-19 as well as those that get deathly sick from the flu.
A double epidemic is a real concern. Burying the healthcare system with both COVID-19 and flu patients does no one a favor.
I view the flu shot during the current pandemic as a civic duty. It’s much like wearing a face mask when appropriate.
I’m not wild about flu shots and I’m not necessarily sold on their effectiveness. I do know how they work to build immunity for a period of time much like having the flu and recovering.
I’m also not wild about wearing masks. And just like flu shots I’m not 100 percent sold on their effectiveness.
But I do agree both are effective to a degree.
And from where I stand swallowing either pride, personal inconvenience, or libertarian thoughts is a small price for someone to pay if either getting a flu shot or wearing a mask avoids some people from getting severely sick or dying.
I also happen to abhor dealing with insurance companies unless I absolutely need to do so. It is why I opted to pay for it myself and not deal with the joys of insurance company forms.
My shot cost me $18.56 after I deducted the $5 Target discount I received after paying for it at the in-store CVS Pharmacy.
It’s a bargain if it helps reduce even to a small degree the daunting challenge we are all up against.
We want the economy to reopen. We don’t want people to die.
It is clear that the economy has to open up or families will be devastated.
At the same time people are going to die regardless of whatever we do.
That leaves the best road to take is one that keeps the death rate as low as reasonably possible while adhering to protocols to retard the spread of COVID-19 as well as the flu.
Is getting a flu shot or wearing a mask an inconvenience? Compared to businesses failing, not being able to go to the gym unless you book a limited time to go twice a week or being forced to go three months without a “legal” haircut neither is an inconvenience.
Doubt the experts all you want, but it is clear the earliest a vaccine might be available for widespread use is December of 2021 if we are lucky. To get to the sweet spot where epidemiologists say herd immunity works hand-in-hand with an effective vaccine to put what we accept as a reasonable ceiling on annual COVID-19 deaths is likely to be two or three years from now at a minimum.
That means a lot of the measures we are taking now will stay with us for a while.
Accept a face mask the same way we have accepted seatbelts. Very few of us eschew seat belts.
I know, I know. Safety belts are the law and they protect you and not the other guy.
But if face masks protect others given you can unwittingly be a carrier and not get sick, that protects you, your loved ones, friends, neighbors, and strangers as well.
How does it protect you? It protects you and others from collateral economic and societal damage from COVID-19.
Given the shaky financial status of more than a few people wearing face masks is a small price to pay to prevent the economy from cratering.
The shot is a mere prick, if that. And if enduring a momentary pain helps the situation by increasing the odds I don’t gum up the healthcare system as flu patient it is well worth it.
I get I’m likely not to get sick from the flu and perhaps even dodge the COVID-19 bullet.
But if there is a chance I can further reduce my getting the flu that has many symptoms that mirror COVID-19 and avoid placing additional pressure on the healthcare system, it was well worth investing 20 minutes of my time on Sunday.
If we want things to return back to some sense of normalcy all of us need to pitch in and do things we may not embrace 100 percent.
The greater good ultimately benefits you as well.
And if you can do that by getting a flu shot and wearing a mask, it is a small price to pay.
The bottom line is simple. What seems like two insignificant gestures may indeed help save the lives of others.