If you have not already had a flu shot this fall, don’t dispair – there’s still plenty of time to get jabbed and possibly save your life.
That’s right – save your life.
What you might know about the common flu – also most commonly known as Influenza A – is that the influenza pandemic of 1918-19 killed 670,000 people in the U.S. The percentage of deaths in World War I among our fighting men? 50% were killed by the flu.
Around the world, the flu killed 50 million people – more than twice that of World War I.
“Well now, Wallace, you knuckleheaded Razorback-lovin’ editor,” you must be saying, “that happened in 1918! That can’t happen today!”
If you read this month’s edition of Smithsonian magaine, you will quickly realize that it’s entirely possible.
“Influenza is not like other diseases,” the magazine notes, “it is caused by a virus so shape-shifting that we have never been able to anticipate which form it will take next.”
We normally stay home with what we think is the “flu” that is more often a bad cold, a nasty stomach virus or bug.
But when the flu hits, you generally know it is something far different.
I discovered that difference last February when a Physicians Assistant at the MU Quick Care Clinic at a Hy-Vee told me that my self-diagnosis of a nasty cold was not even in the ballpark.
“I’m quite certain you have the flu and you need to see a doctor this afternoon,” she said.
I had been feeling lousy for a few days, had some fever off-and-on for the past 24-hours – along with a good case of the chills, then the sweats.
“I’m not sick to my stomach,” I told the doctor that afternoon.
“Doesn’t matter, you have the flu – and at your advanced age….”
There it is. I’m over 50 and it seems the flu is taken much more seriously amongst the young and the old.
“The flu is a respiratory virus,” the doctor reminded me. “You should have had your flu shot.”
He, of course, was right.
I had not had the flu since – who knows? – since I was in college. I had a flu shot a couple of times since I’ve lived in Missouri, but began to think I was the human kryptonite to the flu’s strong ability to infect.
I did not die, but God knows I was pretty apathetic – live or die, I just didn’t want to be in so much pain.
I was in bed for three straight days and made my way to the couch on the fourth day. I went to work on the sixth day and when I felt well on Day 10, I was still easily exhausted for another two weeks.
The flu is a killer. Even if you survive it.
Why not get the shot?
Some mistakenly think the flu shot will give you the flu. If you can find one scientist who can back that up, I’ll buy you lunch anywhere in town. According to the Center for Disease Control, the shot can give you some side effects such as a low-grade fever and aches – but not the flu.
If you don’t take my word for it, take a look at one of these websites:
The site above will tell you that there have been 42 reported cases of flu during this 2017-18 season already.
Flu shots are given at the Boone County Health Department in Columbia between 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. or at MU Health Hy-Vee Quick Care Clinics.