Looking at Flu Shots: Both Sides of the Needle

It’s September, already.  Where did the summer go? Between getting the kids ready for back to school, when you spend so much money it’s like second Christmas, and planning your “Labor Day Summer is Gone Last Hurrah Party” there is another item thrusted onto your to do list: flu shots. Unlike those other guilt ridden gotta-do’s like calling your mother or buying whatever your kid has to sell to pay for their absolutely necessary four day band trip to wherever; flu shots are the gift that keeps on giving.

First of all, flu shots save lives, for people with pre-existing conditions like: asthma, diabetes and chronic pulmonary disorders, it’s an extra line of defense against a prolonged hospital stay or worse.  The elderly and the very young have a weaker resistance to the flu and need to be protected. Pregnant women also show up on the “flu shot priority list” and even, of all people, Native Americans and Alaska natives…go figure. Even if you’re a healthy person, getting a flu shot will help ensure that you won’t be giving the disease to others, like your parents, or your spouse and kids. This is called: herd immunity.  Hmmm…I’ll have to ask my priest if this falls under a Corporal Work of Mercy. Lastly, getting the flu sucks. When I was a young healthy buck and was going to live forever, I never got a flu shot.  I hate needles.  Then I got the flu. First, I was afraid that I was gonna die, then I was afraid I wouldn’t. It was four miserable days of sweats and chills, dizziness and nausea. No thanks! And now I get one every year.


Then, after you finally kick the flu and go back to work, the only good thing about that pileup on your desk is that your boss can’t see you to give you grief for being out.  You’re coworkers flash you a pseudo smile, ask how you’re feeling, and how glad they are that you’re back. All because they want to make sure you’re not planning to call out again and they’ll be shorthanded.  You are so getting stuck with planning the company picnic this year!  Speaking of business, it cost about $10 billion in hospital and doctor visits each year because of the flu. That’s probably why you’ve got this great immunization coverage in your company health plan. See, they really do care! C’mon, it’s free, or almost! Get the shot.

And it’s oh, so easy to get one, in fact, you almost have to try to avoid getting a flu shot.  Most pharmacies and grocery stores this time of year hawk vaccinations like melons at a Persian Market. Employees button hole you in the aisles asking if you had your flu shot yet. Robo-calls and texts bombard you daily. Coupons, discount cards, and points on whatever program they’re running entice you to give up a little time and your arm for your health. Guilt ridden announcements let you know that your flu season peace of mind is only a rolled up sleeve away.

Getting your vaccination early is not a bad idea. It takes a few weeks for your body reach full immunity from the shot, so the sooner you get one the better. You’re going to want to be covered for the holidays and after when the flu really hits. It’s a lot easier, to get it in the late summer or early fall, too, when all you have is a light shirt sleeve to roll up, rather than in the winter, when you have to take off your parka, and a sweat shirt, and a sweater, and another shirt…


Why all the hype? Well, of course, you know that any Health Care Professional (HCP) worth their salt really does care and wants you to get immunized.  The reason why they hassle you like a Bangkok pimp is because they have to make a quota. Even before the first shipment of vaccine arrives, each store receives their projection of shots to be given for the year. It’s ambitious and like department stores trying to capture pre-holiday Christmas sales, the push to get your totals in early comes hard and heavy. District managers, like nervous mothers, hover over each day’s results, because it’s hard to catch up if you stumble out of the gate.  In order to help reach company goals you may have a store sponsored flu clinic where you work. Take advantage of it. It will not only relieve some of the pressure off your HCP but, it is convenient, quick, and the boss will think that you’re a real team player. You can also get other vaccinations that you might need such as: Pneumonia and DPT. Why not? I mean, you’re there anyway. By the way, don’t think that you can call out the next day claiming you got the flu from the shot. The virus they use is dead. You may feel a little punky, sometimes, but suck it up and drag your sorry butt into work anyway; remember the company picnic?

 In my days of giving immunizations I submitted a few suggestions to head quarters to help increase our flu shot numbers. Although I never received a response, I believe these ideas have some merit, so I’ll throw them out there, for what it’s worth, to any HCP who may be interested. My first brainchild was; The Shot for a Shot program. This is where you make a deal with the local tavern owners and give a voucher for a free drink to any of the patrons who get a flu shot there in the bar, of course they would have to get their hand stamped; only one to a customer. This could help pickup business on a slow night: see, a Win-Win. This program could also be expanded to bowling allies for a free game or admission to a AAA baseball game to help increase traffic. They could both use the slogan:  “Strike Out the Flu”. That would save big dollars on signs and advertising. My best idea, by far, is to take over an empty toll booth at a bridge or turnpike: the Flu Shot Lane! We could pick up all or part of the toll for the car to pass. All they would have to do is give us their insurance card and put their bare arm out the window. We could give credit to E-Z Pass drivers and even more if the passengers get vaccinated too. Long haul truckers would find this idea really convenient and just think of all the shots you could give to senior citizens on excursion buses.

Photoshop credits to my daughter’s friend, Vanessa Limbert

Finally, when the flu season is over, the district is usually rewards the hardworking staff of the store with the most shots with a Pizza party! Really? Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but you think with all the money they made for the company that they could do a little better. So, I decided to dedicate a song to honor all those hard working over achievers, who push the numbers for their team. I had a few ideas: first was “Don’t Stop Injecting” sung to “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, then there was “Flu Shot Hero” sung to “Jukebox Hero” by Foreigner, but I decided on: “Flu Shot Queen” sung to “Dancing Queen” by Abba, because these contests are usually chick things, anyway. I hope you like it!

Flu Shot Queen:  For you over achievers.


You can draw. You can stick, really for you it’s no trick.

See that girl. Watch that scene. Digging the Flu shot Queen.

The end of summer has come around,

You get a package from Fed Ex Ground.

Check it in and store it. You know what to do.  Nobody will get the flu.

Hey there! Mister now, don’t be shy.

C’mon now you don’t want to Diiie.

And you’ve got insurance.  You’ll get yours for free.  Don’t walk away from me.

And now it’s plain to see…

You’ll be the Flu Shot Queen, smart and keen, working behind the screen.

Flu Shot Queen…recognized by the CDC…oh yeah.

You can draw.  You can stick, really for you it’s no trick.


See that girl. Watch that scene.  Digging the Flu Shot Queen.

All your techniques are first rate.

You’re so good you’re getting Daaates.

Boney armed old ladies, truckers with tattoos; they’re all the same to you.

And since you saw it through…

You are the Flu Shot Queen…smart and keen working behind the screen.

Flu Shot Queen…recognized by the CDC…oh yeah.

You can draw. You can stick, really for you it’s no trick.

See that girl.  Watch that scene.  Digging the Flu Shot Queen

So I hope that I’ve encouraged and enlightened you to get out there and get that flu shot ASAP. Go see your HCP. Roll up that sleeve and take one for yourself and humanity. Maybe they’ll even give you a fancy band-aid and a cookie. What the heck! Bring your whole family and make it a bonding thing. Why should you be the only one having fun? Then chalk it off your to-do list. Then the only thing left for you will be the car inspection, and the radon test, and back to school night, and…

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