Games can either be ridiculously fun or an undeniable disaster. We all have enjoyed some entertaining ones: Scrabble, chess, beer pong — they’re all games. This H1N1 game, on the other hand, needs to die down quickly.
With the declining number of cases on campus, most are excited to finally see the vaccine’s breakthrough in the community. Most don’t have a clue what it contains or the risks involved, but that’s not the biggest problem facing the issue anymore.
The first doses are being offered to health care professionals. However, the offer seems more like a burden than an opportunity. The vaccine isn’t considered mandatory, but hospitals around the city are requiring those who deny the vaccine to sign waivers. With that kind of pressure, they might as well require it. Will everyone else in the city, county and state be required to sign a waiver if they are not inclined to get a vaccine for an illness so new nobody really knows where it came from? Accounting for people based on personal medical decisions is unfair and daunting.
According to a new Consumer Reports poll, 43 percent of adults are still on the fence regarding the vaccine. St. Mary’s Hospital spokesperson Steve Van Dinter reports only 65 percent of the hospital’s employees get regular flu shots. The likelihood many more will get vaccinated against swine flu is bleak. The fact of the matter is the outcome of a vaccine and that of an illness can be the same. Death is probably for a few with either decision. Designating the waiver for the purpose of protecting more people just simply isn’t plausible. The threat of a waiver looming over their heads is certainly not reason enough for many to pump their bodies full of potentially harmful chemicals. Most cases of swine flu leave people sick and with fever for around 10 days. The same goes for the “regular” flu, as it seems to have been deemed lately. I can only assume the waiver is intended to build anxiety surrounding the illness.
The vaccine is new, barely tested and clearly just about as scary as the virus itself. And yet, health care workers are still being pressured into it. Since when did it become appropriate to hold something as serious as a vaccination over someone’s head? Some will stop at nothing to cause great debate.
In our increasingly informed society, vaccinations are serious business. More and more people are declining to take all types of vaccines on a daily basis. Swine flu is preventable, but the Center for Disease Control and those in charge of distributing the vaccine do not want us to think that it is. A vaccine is just so much more fun, right? Plain and simple, the hype has droned on long enough and quite frankly, it has gone too far. Now, with this waiver, the virus isn’t just an issue, it’s a debate — one that is likely going to blow up just as Jenny McCarthy’s fight against childhood vaccines has done. With all the information out there, it’s difficult to know what is right. Not all are going to agree and the rise of this debate will keep the vaccine right in our faces.
Regardless, waivers will be signed and life will go on. But the lasting effects of the waiver will hang on for dear life. The waiver creates an obligation to make a decision that is potentially completely uninformed, or worse, misinformed. Even worse than the obligation is the guilt associated with it. You didn’t get a vaccine? Here, sign this waiver because you made the decision that we’d prefer you hadn’t (also known as the wrong decision). The goal is to get more people vaccinated. They want people to feel bad. They want us all to buy into the hype and they are using the health care workers to accomplish that goal. The more health care workers get the vaccine, the more the rest of us do. They didn’t sign up to be pawns in this game.
The number of health care professionals disregarding the vaccine’s probability of invading their systems has created a waiver to account for all who don’t. They are supposed to be the experts. What does it say to the rest of us when half of them aren’t worried? Hopefully, regardless of that little piece of paper and its guilt-stricken connotations, everyone will stay informed and either succumb to the vaccination or decline gracefully. So, let’s forget this game full of skewed information and play some Partini.
Jaimie Chapman ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in journalism.