Be afraid. Be very afraid!

Oct 6, 2009 at 7:45 pm

“You BITCH!”

I really didn’t mean to yell. But she tricked me. It was ingenious, really.

You see, I’m not good with needles. At all. So when I went to get my first flu shot at my neighborhood grocery store about 15 years ago, I asked the nurse, “Will it hurt a lot?” She looked at me thoughtfully. Then, in a calm, reassuring voice, she murmured, “This will hurt more than any other shot you’ve ever gotten.” I gasped — and at that very moment she stabbed my arm with what seemed like a gigantic needle. It made me yell. I apologized profusely to Nurse Ratchet, who didn’t really care because everyone waiting in the flu line got a good belly laugh, which, in turn, eased their fears.

Since then I’ve gotten a flu shot every year. This year I’m getting two — the seasonal flu shot and the shot for H1N1, or Swine Flu.

I’m not expecting long lines for the latter.

Surveys indicate only about 40 percent of respondents intend to get the Swine inoculation. The reasons for passing range from “It’s a flu. How bad could it be?” to “I remember 1976.”

Other than the fact I broke my arm and we celebrated the bicentennial, I don’t remember 1976. But in 1976, 45 million people received Swine Flu shots, and after getting the shots, 12 people died and another 400 were paralyzed with rare neurological complications.

Still, I’m getting this new Swine shot.* As Metro Health Medical Director Dr. Matt Zahn points out, we don’t know how widespread H1N1 is going to be. Americans might not be stricken in pandemic proportions, but this virus is usually virulent. It’s already running through college campuses like wildfire and claimed a life in Jefferson County last week.

But even more importantly, I refuse to buy into the growing fear mongering that is permeating the minds of what used to be our fairly sensible public.

Not a week goes by that I don’t get an e-mail touting some sinister conspiracy. Websites claiming to declare the “truth” are too numerous to count. Those forwarding and Googling don’t necessarily believe in black helicopters or wear tinfoil hats, but it’s almost getting to be that bad.

Besides, “The Swine Flu shot is dangerous.”

The government has been quietly building large, dormitory-style barracks on military posts across the country. They’re disguised as potential FEMA housing to be used in the event of disaster, but their real, dastardly purpose is to intern Americans against their will.

Ammunition and guns soon will have to be registered with the Internal Revenue Service; that’s why there’s an ammo shortage around the country. This myth is the reason there’s a shortage of ammunition around the country. A bill called the Blair Holt Act, which basically requires all gun owners to have firearm licenses, is pending before Congress, but there’s nothing before either chamber requiring the listing of weapons on federal tax forms.

President Obama is the antichrist and Jesus told us so. God proclaimed the end of the world will come with storms and lightning. If you translate — from Aramaic to Greek, Greek to English and English to Hebrew — the Greek word for “lightning” is “astrape” and the Hebrew equivalent is “Baraq.” In Isaiah 14:14, Satan professes he will ascend from the heights or tops of the clouds. “Heights,” if you do the translations, turns out to be “Bamah.” Just keep in mind: Ronald Wilson Reagan’s names each have six letters. That made some people think of “666,” the mark of the beast from the Book of Revelation.

Fear equals big money, and a scared population, even a niche one, translates into big business for self-professed leaders — church, political, media and their ilk.

I believe the scientists and doctors who say this Swine Flu shot is safe, if for no other reasons than the fact science has progressed dramatically in the last 33 years, and the U.S. government can’t risk a repeat of 1976.

At some point you have to trust somebody, even if it’s our woefully inept federal government. Sure, there are an awful lot of things we’ll never know or be told, and granted, there is nothing wrong with being cautious or skeptical. But do you really want to live constantly looking over your shoulder?

*According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, despite having the same nickname, today’s H1N1 (“Swine Flu”) vaccine is completely different from the shot given in 1976.