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Interview with a flu virus.

This is indeed a wonderful time of the year to be alive.

The fresh cold air. The gently falling leaves. Geese honking in the sky. A long steel needle piercing your flesh.

Yes, folks, it's time for that enchanting fall ritual, the annual flu shot. When thoughts turn to surviving the winter, viruses from outer space and all that coughing in the mall.

I could never understand why people took a needle of flu vaccine in the arm when all they had to do was go to Chapters, flip through a few magazines, and wait. Bingo, sick for a week, just as good as any vaccine.

Plus, you get a terrific cross-section of microorganisms without having to worry about repetition. And the added bonus of not having to pay for all that scientific research.

Mind you, the Starbucks coffee will cost you a fortune. If you're germophobic like me, (although I have yet to find anyone as germophobic as me except for my hero Michael Jackson, a picture of whose white gloves still sits framed over my mantlepiece, may he rest in peace), the thought of making the flu vaccine a yearly ritual supervised by starchy healthcare professionals is about as appealing as jumping into Lake Ontario on a warm day with a hamburger in my pants pocket. Believe it or not, I saw this once being performed on You Tube in the interest of science (i.e. the science of Frosh Week) by a bunch of college guys. When the guy was being gently but firmly towed away by a raft of plump salivating microorganisms that could hardly wait to get started, a few of them mouthed, "Thank you Canada, we love it here," to the camera. Then they tossed their Starbucks coffee cups overboard and got to work.

Yes, let's take on a tiny dose of sickness so that our body will get used to being sick the rest of the winter when it comes across the 30 million OTHER strains of the flu that weren't contained in the vaccine.

That is the sound scientific basis of all the Canadian research performed on the flu vaccine to date, so no need to worry. When there are tens of thousands of medical professionals highly trained in the scientific nuances of post-SARS who are just bursting to tell us that everyone needs to take a flu shot, we should listen. It is the very foundation of a multi-billion dollar system that provides solid reassurance to a great many people. And that's just their pension plan.

But despite the importance of supplying the professional Y2K-Bird Flu alarmist industry with even more useful ammunition, we still need to know the facts about the flu vaccine, especially in light of the very very VERY important "H1N1 Flu" that officials are now saying will totally trump the regular flu, the measly "normal influenza flu." Especially in summer months. Er, make that winter months. In most parts of the world. Or maybe just North America. Particularly for young people in their twenties. Make that middle-aged women in their forties. With underlying conditions. Or not.

Oh, heck. Never mind.

Yup, we couldn't help but notice that the H1N1 flu had this little problem of dueling theories. So in the interests of dispelling the myths of flu research and a pandemic panic, we hired our own intrepid investigator to actually sit down with a real H1N1 flu virus, perform a vital public service and get the facts.

[Dramatic two-tone intro from Law & Order]:

Reporter: Er, first of all Mr. Virus, where the heck are you?

H1N1 Virus: You're sitting on me.

Reporter: [Shifting on chair.] Oops. Sorry about that. You have no idea how hard it is to interview something that is only .3 microns big.

H1N1 Virus: Try me. But first get your butt off my strand of DNA. Or I might mutate again, producing another yet deadlier version that still won't be affected by any vaccine.

Reporter: [Moves to another chair, quickly.]

H1N1 Virus: [Mad evil laughter] Scared, aren' cha?

Reporter: [Donning full hazmat gear.] I am not!

H1N1 Virus: Ha ha ha ha ha! You silly little handwasher. Won't do you any good. You'll get me into your system sooner or later. Reporter: [Runs away screaming.] H1N1 Virus: [Sighs.] It's always so hard to make friends with people.

[Dramatic two-tone extro from Law & Order.]

So much for the research skills of journalists these days. But not to worry. Most of what we journalists have to say is pretty much useless anyway. According to more of the latest research, nobody actually reads the newspapers these days. In fact, I sincerely doubt that you're even reading this.

For the latest really important information, I recommend a priceless research tool that even the most highly-trained professionals have at their disposal. It reaches millions of people in a split second, is completely free, and provides everyone with the most reliable relevant up-to-date news on every important topic imaginable.

You Tube, of course. What else?

My next piece of advice is do all your shopping online for the next six months, unless you really don't mind being surrounded by hacking coughing people at the mall who hog all the really good magazines ahead of you.

All that probably won't make a difference anyway. Like most of us, you likely already have the flu and don't care.

And if other people get the flu from you, well, they probably would have picked it up anyway.

The bottom line is, there is only one important thing about the flu and it's the only thing that really matters, even if it costs us billions of dollars in healthcare, people die everywhere and the thing becomes a global epidemic.

It's the one thing that lets you sleep at night, and you know it. No one will know they got it from you.

--C.P. Weary is a Kitchener-based writer who pens a humourous column about a small-town newspaper.
COPYRIGHT 2009 Carol Parafenko
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Title Annotation:The Scoop
Author:Weary, C.P.
Publication:Paris Chronicle (Paris, Canada)
Article Type:Interview
Date:Nov 1, 2009
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