It’s Free!

Susan Estrich Syndicated Columnist
Monday, November 14, 2022
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I went to CVS and got a flu shot and a $5 coupon as part of the deal. No waiting. Oh, and it could even save your life. Still.

So how come so few people want to get the latest COVID booster?

I remember standing in line in East Los Angeles to get my first COVID vaccine. I felt like I’d won the lottery. I kept thanking people; I knew how lucky I was.

Remember that feeling? Salvation, almost.

What happened to it? Somewhere along the way, we’ve stopped worrying about COVID. Which is its own kind of salvation, were it only so. But it’s still there, lurking.

Maybe. One casualty of the pandemic has been faith in public health officials, even the best of them. Who do you believe? They say we could be headed for a winter spike in COVID cases. Shouldn’t we be concerned? Has denial set in, like the possibility of an earthquake we don’t want to think about?

Yesterday I got a text message from my county health department urging me to get my free shot, complete with links to get an appointment, so easy compared to the days when my daughter literally snagged an appointment at a new site by following Twitter leads ... something I could never have figured out.

This time it was easy. I made the appointment myself, next day. Then again, I haven’t had a bad reaction to the earlier shots I got, so why would I shy away from another? Why, indeed.

In my limited survey, I’ve heard most of the excuses, which tend to revolve around, “I don’t need it because I’ve either had COVID or haven’t had COVID.” Neither of which makes that much sense: If you haven’t had COVID, you still could; and if you had, you could have it again. And here’s the rub: It could be worse. Unvaccinated people may have picked up some immunity along the way. Or not.

A friend of a friend is in town for her brother’s funeral. Yes, he had a preexisting condition, diabetes. So do lots of people. He went fast. Six days in the hospital. Only in his early 50s. It hit him hard. They put him on a respirator,

and then he was gone.

It still happens. There’s no line now. You don’t have to keep refreshing the screen to find an appointment somewhere. It’s as convenient as your local pharmacy. You can get a flu shot at the same time.

Exactly why not? “I don’t believe in vaccines,” otherwise intelligent people will tell me with a straight face. Exactly what do you believe in, if not science? Are your children vaccinated? Of course.

Science is irrefutable on this one: It’s better, safer, life-saving, even, to protect yourself against COVID and flu. People also die of flu. They die of hospitalacquired infections. They die of COVID. They do not die of flu shots or COVID boosters. Science is not a debate about which reasonable people can differ.

“I have a strong immune system,” a few people say confidently, although the source of that confidence is mostly a mystery. You have a strong immune system until you don’t, and by the time you figure that out, you might well be paying for your cockiness.

I’ll survive if I get it, the naysayers tell me. Why get another shot? Because while it’s true that you probably will survive, you might be miserably sick or, worse, struggle with the after-effects of long COVID. You might infect someone who won’t survive. As opposed to the

sting of a shot.

The shots aren’t perfect. No, they’re not perfect; they are nothing short of scientific miracles that we have come to take for granted. Which makes us, yet again, the luckiest people on the face of the globe, that we can take miracles for granted. But that doesn’t mean we should. Be well.

(To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www. creators.com.)

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