Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Heights?

When will we stop? Will Americans ever reach that elusive point where life is filled to the brim and can hold no more conveniences? Today, one more step has been made toward having everything an American could desire available from the seat of their car. Think about it - one can already drive up to a restaurant, bank and movie theater and be served without leaving the comfort of an air conditioned and cup holder-equipped motor vehicle. Nonetheless, a new precedent has been set.

What, you ask, has brought us to this new height? Well, I have just received a flyer in my mailbox  advertising  drive-through flu shots.

Now perhaps you are thinking to yourself, "he must be crazy, drive-through flu shots are a great idea!" If this is indeed your response I am surprised (and perhaps a few other things as well), but I have nonetheless prepared three possible explanations for my reaction:

1. I'm right and you're wrong - the drive-through flu shot is a ridiculous idea.
2. I'm so tired that almost everything seems funny.
3. I've been reading too much Bill Bryson.

Now, to be fair, this manner of giving shots could be an ingenious way of increasing vaccination rates (the pitifulness of this proposition aside). I would be interested to meet, however, the individuals who are so unable to park their car for 10 minutes in order to walk into virtually any drug store to get vaccinated against a disease that every year inflicts much pain and suffering on millions of americans. Surely there must be more conveniently located drug stores than drive-through flu vaccine dispensaries. Indeed, one can get vaccinated virtually anywhere (at the hospital, the doctor's office, the pharmacy, the mall, your son's little-league game) and the flu has its own "season" (during which time we are free to hunt it to our heart's desire) for the very reason that it is so common. According to the CDC:
Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. It is estimated that, on average, approximately 5% to 20% of U.S. residents get the flu, and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications each year. Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
49,000 people. If I can afford it, I'm likely to want to shell out the $30 or so to prevent myself from a miserable - if not deadly - flu season. Accordingly, I'll admit that if vaccination rates go up thanks to this effort, I would be unlikely to vote for a city ban on drive-through vaccinations since I'm no doubt safer if fewer people around me are sick.

Of course there are always some people who don't get their shot despite having the time, energy and money to do so. Evidently part of this demographic is so excited by the prospect of pulling over to get stuck with a needle by a clinician standing on the side of the road (I kid you not) that they will only be convinced to get their vaccination if they can do it in drive-by form. Just add a little bit of novelty and we'll go gaga over it. Indeed, in the publicity photo the male driver being stuck with a needle is smiling so broadly that either he thinks this whole adventure is as hilarious as I do or there's something other than flu vaccine in that syringe. Maybe I'll just have to go find out for myself ...

UPDATE: Apparently some cities in the United States have enjoyed drive-through shots for decades. Where, you ask, have I been? Getting my vaccinations at proper clinics, thank you very much.