Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 13, 2012

No zombie vaccine, but we can protect our health from kid germs

By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

After being reminded by both my mom and a public health nurse, I finally made some room on my schedule and got a flu shot. I went to the Mercer County Health Department before going to work one day, rolled up my sleeve, and it was done. The whole process took about 10 minutes.

Of course, I wasn’t automatically immune to any flu bugs. Partial immunity takes about two weeks to form, and you’re not fully immunized for about a month. The sooner you get vaccinated, the sooner you get that immunity.

I’m more wary of two other bugs buzzing through the local population. One is an upper respiratory virus that News Editor Andy Patton dubbed a “super cold bug.” It’s just like the regular cold, but stronger and even nastier.

I can live with that, I think, but the second one is the bug of my nightmares — the stomach flu. I’ve hosted varieties of stomach flu in my time, and it’s never a happy event. It makes me think of the plague and other interesting times in human history.

The vectors, or carriers, of these assorted bugs are not what usually comes to mind. Fleas riding rats carried the plague to Europe, and mosquitos deliver bugs such as malaria. Those carriers are nothing compared to small children. Rats and mosquitos don’t have hands.

My oldest nephew, A.J., was a toddler when he put me flat on my back for the first time. My sister Karen and her family were visiting my mom and dad, so I naturally came to visit, too. A.J. wasn’t feeling well and everyone was fussing over him. I took my turns comforting him and keeping him occupied.

That was one heck of a mistake. I should have used lots of hand sanitizer.

I started feeling sick as soon as I got back to Mercer County. Within a day I had a fever and no appetite for anything. I had to call in sick, drink lots of fluids and weather the storm. A.J. bounced back in a day, but I was down sick for three days. That’s when I learned the fact that getting older isn’t always fun. You just don’t recover from bugs the way you did when you were a kid.

Within a couple of years, little brother Alex came along. He got sick, too, and shared the joy with me. This time I had a stomach flu that beat me like a monster with a baseball bat. I’ll spare everyone the gory details, but this bout of stomach flu was bad.

When Christmas arrived a year later, I was down in Charlotte to spend the holiday with Karen. I was helping get things out of the car when Karen mentioned that the boys weren’t feeling too good.“Oh,” I said utterly deadpan. Lord only knows what bug for Christmas, I thought. This time I managed to avoid getting sick.

Now that the boys are teens, their habits are a lot more sanitary. Unfortunately, I still have to visit schools o After being reminded by both my mom and a public health nurse, I finally made some room on my schedule and got a flu shot. I went to the Mercer County Health Department before going to work one day, rolled up my sleeve, and it was done. The whole process took about 10 minutes.

Of course, I wasn’t automatically immune to any flu bugs. Partial immunity takes about two weeks to form, and you’re not fully immunized for about a month. The sooner you get vaccinated, the sooner you get that immunity.

I’m more wary of two other bugs buzzing through the local population. One is an upper respiratory virus that News Editor Andy Patton dubbed a “super cold bug.” It’s just like the regular cold, but stronger and even nastier.

I can live with that, I think, but the second one is the bug of my nightmares — the stomach flu. I’ve hosted varieties of stomach flu in my time, and it’s never a happy event. It makes me think of the plague and other interesting times in human history.

The vectors, or carriers, of these assorted bugs are not what usually comes to mind. Fleas riding rats carried the plague to Europe, and mosquitos deliver bugs such as malaria. Those carriers are nothing compared to small children. Rats and mosquitos don’t have hands.

My oldest nephew, A.J., was a toddler when he put me flat on my back for the first time. My sister Karen and her family were visiting my mom and dad, so I naturally came to visit, too. A.J. wasn’t feeling well and everyone was fussing over him. I took my turns comforting him and keeping him occupied.

That was one heck of a mistake. I should have used lots of hand sanitizer.

I started feeling sick as soon as I got back to Mercer County. Within a day I had a fever and no appetite for anything. I had to call in sick, drink lots of fluids and weather the storm. A.J. bounced back in a day, but I was down sick for three days. That’s when I learned the fact that getting older isn’t always fun. You just don’t recover from bugs the way you did when you were a kid.

Within a couple of years, little brother Alex came along. He got sick, too, and shared the joy with me. This time I had a stomach flu that beat me like a monster with a baseball bat. I’ll spare everyone the gory details, but this bout of stomach flu was bad.

When Christmas arrived a year later, I was down in Charlotte to spend the holiday with Karen. I was helping get things out of the car when Karen mentioned that the boys weren’t feeling too good.“Oh,” I said utterly deadpan. Lord only knows what bug for Christmas, I thought. This time I managed to avoid getting sick.

Now that the boys are teens, their habits are a lot more sanitary. Unfortunately, I still have to visit schools occasionally, and going out in public as much as I do exposes one to flu bugs. That’s why getting a flu shot was so important. Besides my own health, I have to think about my parents. The last thing I want to do is to infect them with a new flu bug.

You would think that more people would get vaccinated against flu and other diseases now that pandemics — those epidemics that travel the globe — are one of Hollywood’s more popular ways to destroy the world. I think this trend started with the 1970s movie “The Andromeda Strain.” Based on the novel by Michael Crichton, the same guy who wrote “Jurassic Park,” the movie describes scientists battling a space germ that made the plague look like the common cold. Andromeda was definitely scarier than a Tyrannosaurus on the loose.

 More recent editions of germs almost wiping out humanity include “I Am Legend” with Will Smith and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” with Andy Serkis. Jets carried both movies’ super bugs around the world in a few days. Then you have all the assorted zombie movies with their shambling, biting ghouls that are almost as bad as little kids when it comes to spreading disease.

There isn’t any vaccine against zombies, but we do have vaccines against the flu. Being vaccinated doesn’t take much time and doesn’t cost much, and the pin prick from an injection is better than suffering days of flu agony.

Doing simple things like making sure to wash your hands and turning away if you have to cough or sneeze will also keep the flu at bay, but a vaccination is the best way to avoid getting sick. All the nurses I talk to tell me the same thing: Don’t wait to get that shot.

You don’t become immune from the flu the moment you get that shot. It takes a couple of weeks to build up partial immunity and a month to reach full immunity. The sooner you are vaccinated, the sooner you can weather the rest of flu season and avoid the dangers posed by children.

Greg Jordan is senior reporter at the Daily Telegraph. Contact him at gjordan@bdtonline.com.ccasionally, and going out in public as much as I do exposes one to flu bugs. That’s why getting a flu shot was so important. Besides my own health, I have to think about my parents. The last thing I want to do is to infect them with a new flu bug.

You would think that more people would get vaccinated against flu and other diseases now that pandemics — those epidemics that travel the globe — are one of Hollywood’s more popular ways to destroy the world. I think this trend started with the 1970s movie “The Andromeda Strain.” Based on the novel by Michael Crichton, the same guy who wrote “Jurassic Park,” the movie describes scientists battling a space germ that made the plague look like the common cold. Andromeda was definitely scarier than a Tyrannosaurus on the loose.

 More recent editions of germs almost wiping out humanity include “I Am Legend” with Will Smith and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” with Andy Serkis. Jets carried both movies’ super bugs around the world in a few days. Then you have all the assorted zombie movies with their shambling, biting ghouls that are almost as bad as little kids when it comes to spreading disease.

There isn’t any vaccine against zombies, but we do have vaccines against the flu. Being vaccinated doesn’t take much time and doesn’t cost much, and the pin prick from an injection is better than suffering days of flu agony.

Doing simple things like making sure to wash your hands and turning away if you have to cough or sneeze will also keep the flu at bay, but a vaccination is the best way to avoid getting sick. All the nurses I talk to tell me the same thing: Don’t wait to get that shot.

You don’t become immune from the flu the moment you get that shot. It takes a couple of weeks to build up partial immunity and a month to reach full immunity. The sooner you are vaccinated, the sooner you can weather the rest of flu season and avoid the dangers posed by children.

Greg Jordan is senior reporter at the Daily Telegraph. Contact him at gjordan@bdtonline.com.