Rhinos, take 2

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 60, No. 9, November 2018, Page 425 Editorials

This year, as another flu season begins, I’m going to try a different approach with my patients to conserve all the energy I expend trying to educate them (see my editorial in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue, “Of rhinos and flu”). 

“Hey Doc, do you think I should get the flu shot?”


“Why not?”

“Haven’t you heard? That shot gives you the flu!”


“Well, it contains parts of the flu virus, which are injected into you.”

“That doesn’t sound good.”

“I know. It’s horrible. Your body’s immune system responds and you might even feel unwell for a few hours. Can you imagine? Way better to fight it off bedridden for a week or 2.”


“Oh yeah, always better to get the disease. What would I do if no one got sick?”

“Aren’t there serious complications from getting the flu?”

“Sure, but they are rare. Where’s your sense of adventure?”

“I’m feeling a little uncomfortable.”

“But wait, that’s not all.”

“There’s more?”

“The flu shot takes time to produce so scientists have to decide months ahead of time which strains to include, and the last few years they haven’t been very accurate. Of course, there is some cross-protection to other strains, but whatever.”

“Isn’t protection a good thing?”

“My advice is to hang out with people who get the flu shot and stay away from the sickies. That’s what I do.”

“But you’re a physician.”

“Yeah, but not a very good one—just ask my wife. She tells everyone. I’m just in it for the fame and fortune.”

“But you don’t have a car and you aren’t famous.”

“Regardless, that flu shot causes all sorts of problems. Lots of my patients get colds after receiving the vaccine and last year one of my patients got into a car accident after receiving the shot.”

“Isn’t that a coincidence?”

“That’s what they would like you to think.”

“Who are they?”

“Everybody knows who they are, but I can’t talk about it here in case they have my office bugged again.”

“Are you sure you’re not one of those impaired physicians?”

“Define impaired.”

So, okay, maybe not, but it’s still fun to think about going to the dark side. However, I’m sure that, like all of you, I will soldier on instead and present logical scientific arguments until I am once again blue in the face.

David R. Richardson, MD. Rhinos, take 2. BCMJ, Vol. 60, No. 9, November, 2018, Page(s) 425 - Editorials.

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