I Got My Swine Flu Shot Today (and Albert Camus Would Have Gotten His Swine Flu Shot Too)

“No man is an island. Each is a part of the main.”

This afternoon my wife, my three and five year old daughters, and I all went to the doctor to get our swine flu shots. We got our regular flu shots and our pneumonia vaccinations last month. How about you? Will you be protecting yourself, your family, and your community from the spread of a global pandemic (which hits pregnant women and children hardest)? Will you rise to the existential occasion?

A few months back, Obsidian Wings invited a guest blog post on swine flu, co-written by an immunologist and bioethicist. The advice that they offered on swine flu amounted to a list of Albert Camus-like existential responsibilities that we have to one another in the midst of a potential pandemic. I couldn’t help but think of Camus’s novel, The Plague, and the novel’s protagonist (the good Dr. Rieux) as being akin to the two doctors who wrote the post. Here’s one of their recommendations:

One possible social distancing measure that public health authorities could ask us to undertake is to stay at home for a period of time. A basic principle of emergency preparedness is that each of us should have sufficient food and water in our homes to last our families in such an eventuality. Now is the time to make sure that your family is well provisioned, not only to protect yourselves but also out of recognition that some families do not have the money or stable housing required to stockpile food. If those of us who have the means take care of our own needs, it will be easier for the government and community organizations to take care of those who do not.

And another:

If you haven’t done so already, now is a good time to get to know your neighbors. Find out if any of them may need a little extra help dealing with this public health threat. People who live alone, for example, may appreciate your checking in with them from time to time, and elderly neighbors may need your help stocking up on food.

Read their full post here.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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