PAT NEAL: Flu season shots help

THIS IS A morning that can make you feel like a spawned-out salmon headed downstream tail first.

Now, I am not going to waste valuable print space talking about my symptoms this cold and flu season which include brain sensitivity, stomach palpitations, hair loss, blurred vision and an aversion to watching pharmaceutical ads.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Is this the flu? Or is it the leftover fish-camp chili?

All of which leads to the sullen realization that I should have gotten a flu shot.

I know vaccinations, like everything else in this great country of ours, are very controversial these days.

To gain some perspective it might be helpful to look back just 100 years or so.

The Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918 may have killed 100 million people world-wide making it deadlier than the Black Death (75 million) and AIDs (35 million).

The Spanish Influenza probably wasn’t Spanish at all but they were the only country that admitted having it.

This was during World War I when everyone censored their news for morale and security issues.

Secrecy, along with the mass movement of troops across the globe helped spread the disease which occurred in the summer and autumn instead of the winter months and seemed to be most deadly to young people with healthy immune systems.

The Spanish Influenza hit the Olympic Peninsula in October of 1918. It caused a near panic.

A state law required all those traveling in public to wear a six-layer gauze mask.

Schools, theaters, churches and all public meeting places were closed.

The hundreds of men working for the U.S. Spruce Division in primitive logging camps scattered from the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Lake Quinault would have been particularly vulnerable, but they were discharged and sent home as quickly as possible at the Armistice on Nov. 11.

Eventually an estimated 700,000 Americans died from the Spanish flu before this mysterious disease mysteriously disappeared.

Last year, 80,000 Americans died from the flu making it deadlier than gun violence (39,773 victims) traffic accidents, (40,000) and drug overdoses that killed 70,237 people.

While each of these fatalities is a personal tragedy, put together they have reduced life expectancy in the United States the past two years in a row to 78.7 years.

Which puts us behind other countries such as Mexico, Canada and the U.K.

While our country cannot seem to control gun violence, car accidents or drug overdoses, you can do something about the flu.

Go out and get a flu shot.

This might take some doing. You might have to hunt around for flu vaccine this year.

Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers who have projected that they will supply as many as 162 million to 169 million doses of influenza vaccine for the 2019-20 season.

Meanwhile the U.S. Census Bureau’s population clock estimated the 2019 United States population at 330 million.

That’s OK. According to the CDC, only about 50 percent of Americans bother to get a flu shot anyway.

There could be many reasons for this besides the current suspicion of the effectiveness and risks associated with vaccines.

Some people claim they got a flu shot and got the flu anyway.

That could be because it can take two weeks for the vaccine to work and maybe they caught the flu before the shot was effective.

Sometimes what we think is the flu isn’t the flu at all.

I’ve seen left-over fish-camp chili cause flu-like symptoms that last for days.

There’s no vaccine for that.

There is for the flu. Please get a flu shot.


Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing and rafting guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via patnealwild

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