Then, the harried cashier ringing up my popcorn and hairspray set me straight: the store's pharmacy was administering vaccines for swine flu--or, H1N1 as we're supposed to call it now. First off, I didn't even know those shots were out there for public consumption. I thought they were still just for medical practitioners and whatnot. But it turns out Fred Meyer had a limited supply, and the buzz in the store was that they were for the high risk groups only: children, pregnant women, elderly, etc.
A check to King County's public health page shows that I'm apparently behind the times because a lot of pharmacies are giving them out. And, it sounds like more than high risk groups can get them. Fred Meyer would allegedly do it for anyone over the age of 13 (or under 3 with a prescription). I confess, this is the first time I really witnessed the anxiety around swine flu up close and personal--well, aside from everyone in Canada carrying their own bottles of hand sanitizer.
The first time I heard of H1N1 was on my way back from the RT con, sitting in the Houston airport with Mark and Caroline Henry. There, a TV news show informed us that airplanes and Texas were dangerous spots. Oh, irony. As time has gone on, I seem to keep hearing about more and more people who know someone who had it and who got over it. I only talked to someone myself who caught it (hi Sophia!) for the first time a couple weeks ago. She'd had it for a week and then was back to work and recovering nicely.
So, I'm not sure how I feel about it all now. Any disease branded an epidemic is a scary thing, particularly when the deaths from it get all sorts of attention. I'm not sure I'm going to run out and get my vaccine, though, at least while the supply is still small. I may do it when it's easier and more available, even though I am a raging hypochondriac. But I just have to assume I'm in the lowest risk group because people of my age and health status do have greater resistance--so I'm not sure I feel right about taking a shot away from a pregnant woman or child if I've already got some defense. I'm also pretty arrogant (and perhaps I'll regret the hubris of this post later when swine flu throws a kink in my deadlines) about my immune system. I never get 'regular' flu shots. I haven't had the flu since I was a kid, and I was born with a natural immunity to chicken pox. Again, maybe this attitude will come back to haunt me, so I should knock on wood or throw salt over my shoulder. Don't taunt fate.
In the meantime, I'll close with a special tip from our friends at Bakon Vodka. On their website, they have a recipe for a drink called Swine Flu Shot consisting of bacon vodka, Jagermeister, and Goldschlager. I hope they share it with the CDC.