By Tom Myers
I love following governments and what they are doing. I also get alarmed at the very idea of a crisis occurring on any level, be it federal, state or local. So imagine my concern when I attended the Harford County Council meeting on October 20 and heard Susan Kelly, Harford County’s Board of Health officer, talk about how Harford County had to cancel its flu clinics because the county is running short of vaccines for the regular flu as well as vaccines for the H1N1 strain.
The real question to ask is this: How can a county in one of the most innovative countries in the world run short of flu vaccine at the end of the first decade of the 21st century? In my twenty-six (twenty-seven in January, ugh) years on this planet, how can we have a shortage of flu vaccine year after year? Why isn’t this country making its own flu vaccine? We have to get our flu vaccines from GlaxoSmithKline, a British company. Yes, the British. The same people who brought us the War of 1812, the Beatles and Monty Python are sending us our flu vaccine? The conservatives who don’t trust the British health care system and say it’s too close to socialized medicine have no objections to us buying our flu vaccine from the British? In 2004, the shortage of flu vaccines got so critical that we considered asking a German company to manufacture them for us. Let’s go through this. The Germans, the same people who used to go to war with any country when it had nothing else to do and who at one time tried to eradicate entire groups of people based on their ethnic backgrounds, religious preferences and political affiliations, were going to produce our flu vaccine. When I heard this, I channeled General George Patton, and right after he slapped another soldier lying in a hospital bed, he and I both came to the conclusion that something was going down and we didn’t like it, whatever it was. As Americans, we have the ability to make our own flu vaccine. We can even do this at the local level. Harford County can lead the way in flu vaccine production. I’m sure many people who read The Dagger have children in school. I’m sure some of their children’s classmates are connected Kevin-Bacon-style to someone whose parents are never home and who operate a drug lab in their basement. If they are adept at manufacturing acid and crystal meth and whatever else they can make by playing with industrial-strength cleaning fluids, then I’m pretty sure we can teach them how to manufacture a flu vaccine. Come on, Harford County, let’s lead the way! This is our defining moment!
As for the H1N1 virus, it is truly one of the most terrifying diseases I can certainly remember in my lifetime. What makes it even scarier is that we can’t blame the outbreak and spread of this virus on Osama bin Laden, Glenn Beck, CNN or even Britney Spears. Without anybody to blame, we are lost as a society. My 12-year-old niece Grace enlightened me with an idea concocted by one of her friends. Since the 1’s in H1N1 look like the letter “I,” the name of the virus could be changed to HINI. Therefore, it could be called “the heinie flu.” That way, it wouldn’t sound so bad. I had to remind her that the “heinie flu” already exists. It’s what happens after you eat at Taco Bell and the kid who makes your food wipes himself and forgets to wipe himself.
It does me good to hear that flu clinics are still being offered in Harford County. It makes me happy knowing I can read The Dagger and know that there will be a flu vaccine clinic at Ripken stadium. It also makes me happy to know that it is highly recommended that elderly people with underlying health conditions, children and pregnant women should get the vaccine. As soon as I hear this, I realize that while I don’t have a lot of muscle, I do have enough that I can push my way past the elderly, pregnant women and children and get my flu vaccine.
If you think that’s sad, then consider I actually had to look up how to spell “heinie.” Just to make sure I got the spelling right for public reading.
Now, I know there are other ways to stay healthy other than getting a flu vaccine. A friend of mine has been talking me into going hunting. I have never hunted, so the concept sounds pretty simple. Not so fast, my friend tells me. He has his own rules about what constitutes something at which to shoot. My friend says that if he sees a doe wandering around with her babies, he has a soft spot for them and doesn’t want to shoot them. My friend then goes on to say that he usually finds a deer that’s old or looks as though it’s in a lot of pain limping around. In other words, the deer has not been keeping up on where the flu vaccine clinics take place. Now, I get it. This hunting stuff gets easier and easier. So if I’m crouched behind a bush, and I see a deer merrily hopping along with an oxygen tank strapped to him, then I know it is okay to blow him to smithereens. As for hunting for and killing deer, my truck usually manages to do the job just fine.
Another friend of mine called me up and said he is thinking of losing weight and wanted to know if I thought he should join a health club. Some advice for you Dagger readers: if you are thinking of joining a health club, here is a way to save some money. Sit down and eat a giant bowl of chili. Then, wait an hour. The effect will be such that you will feel like you have lost a ton of weight. And another plus, you won’t even have contracted the dreaded “heinie flu.”
Now, I’m off to Taco Bell. Who wants a chalupa? I’m buying. You, however, must supply your own bicarbonates.