If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, my current deficit likely tips the scales. It’s not that I’m adamantly opposed to getting a flu shot. If you can stave off a little illness with a slight prick of a needle, why not? The flu shot doesn’t appear to carry — yet — the same controversial argument of other vaccines regarding autism or other domino-like health effects. Plus the younger generations don’t know how good they have it living in a world of vaccines for HPV and chicken pox. Never knowing the misery that is trying not to pick at calamine lotion-drenched bumps under fear of permanent scarring? That is worth the price of admission right there.
But still, I have never had a flu shot. I think about it. I tell myself I should. I read about what new strains this year’s version will battle and what monster virus from birds or pigs or camels or what have you is just waiting to make the Black Plague look like an isolated bout of norovirus. Then I promptly never make an appointment or hit the nearest pharmacy.
Maybe it’s my annoyance at historically not having health insurance cover the entire cost of the shot, particular for those of us who’d prefer to pop into the nearest CVS or Target store rather than squeeze in a doctor’s visit (and associated copayment). Yes, some plans do cover the shot, particularly for those in certain age ranges or lower economic brackets. And maybe the Affordable Care Act now mandates that insurance pick up the tab for the regular Jane and John who just want to stave off the flu. I’m hard-pressed to find a simple answer so admittedly my frustration may be dated.
Regardless, as a matter of principal, the point is the shot should be free. Why should an insurance company prefer taking care of a health situation after the fact rather than nip it in the bud? This isn’t the birth control mandate.
At the beginning of flu season, none of that mattered anyway. I wasn’t going to get sick, I told myself while conveniently forgetting about last year’s Sickness Tour 2013. Besides, everybody who gets the shot says they feel ill for a few days. Why would I possibly want to speed up the inevitable?
That was all before the hacking started. And the phlegm. And the sniffling, the painful swallowing, the weeping eyes, the tingling ears, the slight flavor of gross coating the throat and every edible item that travels down it. Despite the dousing of hand sanitizer repeatedly throughout the day and the feeble attempts to avoid those who don’t cough and sneeze like a vampire, I fell victim.
At first, I blamed poor sleeping habits for the slight under the weather feeling. Then I blamed the coworkers recuperating from their own bouts of Martian death flu. After the finger pointing stopped, the culprit became clear — the bag of dark chocolate covered acai blueberries. The Trader Joe’s goodies are in fact delicious, so delicious in fact that the majority of the editorial staff dipped its hands into the bag time and time again. Much like those bowls of bar nuts and dishes of unwrapped candy that beckon like germy public stews of filth and foul, the communal treat bag was undoubtedly Ground Zero for the sickness.
I should have just gotten the darn shot. Then again, perhaps my ailment is just the common cold. If I could tell the difference, I might know which one to starve and which one to feed.
Just to be on the safe side, though, I might just cave while there’s still a window of opportunity. I wouldn’t want to look back one day while bedridden and know the opportunity just flew by.
Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor: email@example.com.