Of vaccinations and votes

Opinion: Columns

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By Karen Muriello

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I got my flu shot this year at the food store. My husband did not; neither did my grown sons. They all got the flu. The virus marched through their households, and was so nasty, everyone promised to get a flu shot next fall.

In 2016, some Americans voted in the presidential election. According to PBS.org, of those eligible to vote, 58% turned out to cast a ballot. That means 42% did not go to the polls. According to dailydot.com, the United States ranks 31st out of 35 developed countries in voter turnout. The result of our action — or inaction — is living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., at least during most weekdays.

In both cases — vaccination and voting — the non-participants got what could be expected. In both cases, it would have taken a bit of effort to get up off the couch and do something that was not convenient or entertaining, but necessary.

In both cases, I hear people say, "I'll never skip that again." But American memories — as we see — are painfully short. When next fall rolls around, people will find excuses not to get their flu shot. We will decide it's not important and a pain. People will avoid getting the flu shot because they easily can.

Is it possible that when the 2018 and 2020 elections roll around, people will find excuses not to vote? Is it possible that voting will be deemed not important or a pain in the rear? Will people avoid voting simply because they can?

The consequences of missing your flu shot include infecting your loved ones, your workmates, and your neighbors. We are living with the consequences of those who decided to stay home rather than get a shot, as we are living with the consequences of those who decided not to vote in 2016. Those consequences are not limited to those we live or work with; they affect the entire planet. By not voting, we've elected a president who seems to thrive on being unpresidential, uncivil, and unpredictable. We got what we deserved. The American optimism that once inspired dreams of democracy around the world is down with the flu.

Next fall, let's all get our flu shot. We will keep our families and communities healthier. We will not miss work, we will likely avoid the misery of the worst strains of the virus. We will have to make an effort, go out of our way, or even (oh no!) make an appointment to get our flu shot. 

The consequences of not getting the shot are local. The consequences of not voting are global.

Next fall, and in 2020, let's resolve to inoculate ourselves against electing representation by inaction. Let's vote. Personally, I don't care whether you are a Republican or Democrat, Independent or Libertarian, as long as you get off your couch and cast a ballot. 

And while you're up, get your flu shot.

Karen Muriello, a digital marketing specialist, has lived in Oak Park since 1978. She is a former deputy village clerk of Oak Park, a political observer, and has been free of flu this year.

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Val Dorfman Allen from Larchmont  

Posted: January 18th, 2018 11:56 AM

Right On Karen Muriello! I agree wholeheartedly and will continue to work towards voter turnout. I totally love the analogy. Bravo.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: January 17th, 2018 8:45 PM

To Ms. Muriello not partaking in flu vaccination is a metaphor for non partaking in Presidential elections. Specifically she suggests "that non-participants got what could be expected." Her metaphor would work if the flu vaccination was highly efficacious. If only that was true. She notes that only 58% of eligible voters voted in the past 2016 Presidential election. According to the CDC (you know that rabid denier of vaccine efficacy) last years' flu vaccine (2016-17) had a vaccine efficacy (VE) rate of 39% (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/vaccination/effectiveness-studies.htm). That means it was largely ineffective 61% of the time. The CDC expects similar efficacy results this year as well. So Ms. Muriello really has things backward. We should be so lucky if the flu vaccine efficacy rate was the 58% "efficacy rate" (turn out) of last years' Presidential election; and not the other way around.

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