Politics

GET YOUR FLU SHOT! And Get Your Government to Give Flu Shots to Migrants

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Transcript:

Well, it’s late September and you know what that means: time for me to be super annoying to everyone I know and tell them to GET YOUR GODDAMN FLU VACCINE. Let me take a brief moment to summarize myself from last year: every negative thing you’ve heard about the flu shot is WRONG. It won’t get you sick, it won’t make you autistic, it will lessen your chance of getting the flu, if you do get the flu it will make it easier to get over, and it might literally save the life of someone with a compromised immune system, like your grandma or a random baby you pass on the street.

It’s also cheap — if you have insurance, your insurance company probably lets you get one for FREE. That’s right, free! Because it works, and they don’t want to have to pay up when you get seriously sick later.

Even if you don’t have insurance, most pharmacies offer it for about $20 and it’s worth it. It’ll take 5 minutes and you’ll greatly decrease the chances that you’ll get really horribly sick.

Okay, now that that’s over with, because we live in the worst timeline I can no longer just worry about convincing you, person with an extra $20 to spare, that the flu vaccine is safe, effective, and necessary. No, now I also have to convince my own government of that fact, because the United States Customs and Border Protection has announced that they will not give flu shots to migrants being held in detention.

One of the reasons why flu is so deadly is how easy it is to pass from person to person. Someone with the flu can spread it several feet every time they sneeze or cough, so when you cram a bunch of people inside one small area, it can spread like wildfire. That’s bad enough when it’s your office, and your coworkers are one cube over from you. But imagine a prison, crammed with people who are stressed out and undernourished, literally living on top of one another. 

The flu vaccine is relatively cheap and would literally save lives in that scenario, but the Trump administration does not care about these people’s lives. That’s one reason why three children have already died of the flu in detention centers — that’s 3 out of 200,000. The normal mortality rate is 1 in 600,000. The migrants are experiencing NINE TIMES the mortality of the general population. Flu season is just starting — how many more will die by the time spring comes?

But it’s not just a lack of care leading to the the US’s decision — it’s also very likely an incredibly cruel way to play into stereotypes about immigrants. The administration wants Americans to think of migrants as dirty and disgusting animals that don’t belong in polite society, like the Irish and Jews before them. It’s fucked up, and it may actually work to convince the average American to care less about these human beings.

We could keep them healthy and alive but not if our administration continues to treat them like animals. Actually, stet that — we in the US treat animals in shelters better. They get vaccines as soon as they arrive, and are quarantined if they test positive for communicable diseases. So we’re treating migrant humans, including actual children, worse than we treat stray dogs.

There are a few doctors in Congress, and they’ve petitioned Trump to change the policy. Honestly, I’m pessimistic about their chances, but kudos to Washington state rep Kim Schrier, and California reps Ami Bera and Raul Ruiz. We need more science-based lawmakers pushing for our dystopian administration to recognize the humanity of immigrants.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor.

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