I tried to relax my muscles and breathe deeply, slowly. The needle pierced my skin and I flinched, but managed to stop myself from pulling away.
“I always get so tense around needles. I know it’s irrational.”
“What’s that?” I realized my whole body was turned away from her. I laughed at myself and repeated, “I don’t know why I can’t get rid of this fear I have of needles.”
“Some people are deathly afraid of needles — absolutely terrified. You’re doing great.” She applied a small round bandage to my upper arm.
I changed my view on flu shots and have been getting them the past couple of years. It seems our collective consciousness has forgotten the very real dangers of influenza.
In 1918-19, the influenza pandemic reached global proportions and killed anywhere between 30 and 50 million people — including right here at home. Influenza pandemics returned in 1957-58 and, again, in 1968-69. Exactly 98 years ago, in late October 1918, researchers understood that influenza was caused by a virus and that viruses could cause diseases for more than twenty years. The influenza virus mutates rapidly so a given vaccine is only effective for a year or two.*
Today, we have new vaccines available every year. How fortunate are we?
“It was really nice to meet you,” the nurse handed me a lollipop. I laughed and my eyes must have lit up. When was the last time a medical practitioner rewarded me with candy?
Delightful. Well, about as delightful as getting jabbed with a needled and pumped with disease-causing agents can be.
*The Great Pandemic. From: United States Department of Health and Human Services. See: http://www.flu.gov/pandemic/history/1918/index.html. Photo from public archives: Influenza pandemic in Iowa.
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