Jeff Ackerman: Journalists should get shot at bird flu vaccine |
Jeff Ackerman

Back to: Opinion

Jeff Ackerman: Journalists should get shot at bird flu vaccine

This bird flu “pandemic” that threatens to kill most humans on Earth is nothing to sneeze at. That’s why, I suppose, the president took a break from his busy day to let us all know that we’ll be spending billions of dollars to make sure all politicians are given a vaccination shot before it’s too late.

The rest of us … cough, cough … will be on our own.

Last week, President Bush must have watched the same History Channel show that I did. It pretty much outlined a scenario based on the ability of the latest bird flu to spread from human to human. It was the perfect thing to show on Halloween because it scared the living bejeepers out of me. Within 30 days of the outbreak, a computer determined that a million Americans would be dead and millions more dying. The economy had collapsed and bad guys ran free to pillage and plunder until the bird flu killed them, too. The president and his cabinet had already hightailed it to a big cave somewhere in Colorado (much like the cave they ran to when those jets hit the Trade Center towers), hoping the giant steel doors would keep the germs out and that, when they finally ventured out again, there would still be enough Americans alive to pay taxes.

If you weren’t paying attention, Bush said he wants to spend “billions” to acquire 40 million vaccine doses, enough for 20 million people, by 2009. That’s bad news for the estimated 200 million or more other Americans who won’t get vaccinated. Do the math, folks. It’s a Titanic lifeboat scenario all over again.

As you can imagine, there is a list of people who would likely get a shot (and there is no guarantee that it will work) before anyone else. At the top of the list would be medical and emergency response people. If they die, who’s going to take our temperature? Cops and firefighters would be next in line for the shots because we’d need to make sure we don’t burn or get robbed while the bird flu is making us spit up blood. After that comes the military. We’d still need a strong military just in case the firefighters and cops get out of hand or in the event a few nut-bags out there get the bright idea to hit us while we’re busy throwing up.

After them comes … and I swear on my mother’s eyes this is true … “pregnant women and politicians,” all in the same breath. So it would be a good idea to either run for city council or jump in the sack with your partner at the first sign of a pandemic.

Unfortunately, journalists are not on the invite list, which makes me a little nervous, given the fact that I’ve been fixed and have no desire to run for office. I plan to lobby heavily to get journalists vaccinated ahead of pregnant women, as unpopular as that might sound. Someone needs to report this pandemic, and I don’t have time to teach pregnant women how to file a story in NewsEditPro, which is the software we use to do such things.

Failing that, we at least ought to be right there with the politicians when it comes to getting the shots. They say every politician ought to have an editor for a brother so he’d have someone to look up to.

I also think it’s important to include musicians on the priority list. Who wants to live in a world without song and dance? How long can we survive on political speeches or medical jargon before we’d want to jump out a window or eat an infected chicken?

We’d also need to make sure we have a few cooks on the list. I’ve eaten in hospitals and … let’s just say there’s a reason they feed it to sick people. And before any of you start “pooh-poohing” this, remember the Spanish Flu of 1918?

In case you missed that class, one of every five humans on Earth died during that pandemic. And by the way, it didn’t start in Spain at all. It was traced to a tiny town in Kansas where a young man contracted it, probably through some unnatural act with a bird, and then went off to take his Army physical. That’s how all of these things start, by the way.

It’s disgusting how some humans interact with animals, which is why I’m always telling my son to quit kissing the cat on the mouth. I’ve been to Vietnam, one of a handful of countries seeing large numbers of infected birds, and have seen the way they handle their food. We ought to be VERY concerned.

My guess is that the government knows a LOT more than we do about this latest bird flu problem. For all we know, it’s already making the rounds through North Dakota (I haven’t heard a peep out of that state in two months). Why else would Bush take a break from “staying the course” if we had nothing to worry about?

That doesn’t mean I want you to run outside right now and start screaming. If there is a pandemic, there’s not a hell of a lot you can do about it. They tried all kinds of things back in 1918, and none of it worked. You’re better off staying home and playing videos, making sure the shotgun is loaded in the event some vaccinated politician wants to break in and rub it in your nose. “I got vaccinated and you didn’t! Na, nana, nana, na!”

Until then, drop the chickens and go get a flu shot if you have the chance to do so. It may not help, but it sure can’t hurt.

Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 477-4299,, or 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley 95945.