President Trump had his annual physical last Friday, and the results were revealed earlier this week. While it wasn’t quite the “healthiest man ever to exist in the universe” fiasco of the election, it gave rise to an instant conspiracy theory.
The “girther” movement saw the declaration that Trump was 6’3 and 239 pounds, and promptly decided it was a lie, based on a bunch of other people who are about 6’3 and 239 and don’t look a damn thing like Donald Trump.
Chatter about President Trump’s weight was deemed to be everything from an expected outgrowth of Trump tendency to lie about pretty much everything, to “hypocritical and ignorant” fat shaming.
While the “girth certificate” debate raged, I was disturbed by an actual omission in the president’s medical exam: we don’t know if he got his flu shot.
In fact, he almost certainly didn’t.
The US has been in the grip of a brutal flu season, with ER’s around the country flooded by flu victims. Experts have generally blamed the epidemic on a nasty strain of the virus that quickly mutates, and has rendered the annual vaccine only about 10% effective. During a bad year for the flu, as many as 50,000 people in the US die, and so far, thousands of people, including dozens of children, have succumbed.
The reasons you should get a flu shot are numerous. As are the myths about why you shouldn’t, all of which have been completely debunked. The flu shot is safe, won’t give you autism, won’t give you the flu, still means you can get the flu, won’t implant a mind control chip in you, won’t fill you with “toxins” and isn’t the first step toward government slavery. If you think those things are true, talk to almost anyone with a medical degree that didn’t come from the internet.
One person you should not ask, though, is President Trump. Because according to a 2015 interview, he’s dead set against getting the flu shot.
A 2015 interview with Sirius XM’s Opie and Jim Norton gave then-candidate Trump a chance to pontificate on whether he got his shot that year. Naturally, he didn’t, and for ludicrously stupid reasons:
“I’ve never had one… Thus far I’ve never had the flu. I don’t like the idea of injecting bad stuff into [my] body, which is basically what they do…I’ve never had a flu shot, and I’ve never had the flu…I have friends that religiously get the flu shot and then they get the flu… I’ve seen a lot of reports that the last flu shot is virtually totally ineffective.”
Contrast this with other presidents, who have made a public show of getting their flu shots, sending the message to Americans that if it’s safe enough for POTUS, it’s safe enough for the rest of us.
Clearly, this is not a message President Trump is interested in sending. Even worse, Trump’s flu shot refusal has been embraced by anti-vaccine websites, many of whom already saw Trump as a hero for his stance that vaccines cause autism (they don’t.)
But with only about 50% of Americans getting flu shots, and vaccine refusal hitting developing world levels in some wealthy parts of the country, this is where the president needs to lead by example.
If more Americans got the flu shot, fewer would have the flu. This is as basic as science gets.
And what’s great is that even if the President hasn’t gotten his shot, he still can. According to the FDA (you know, one of those government agencies that he’s theoretically responsible for), it’s not too late to get a flu shot, and that even with a less-effective vaccine, any protection is better than no protection.
Mr. President, please roll up your sleeve and get a flu shot. Stop subscribing to stupid myths and start doing something positive with the bully pulpit you won. Get vaccinated, tell others to get vaccinated, and save some lives.
And it might not hurt to lose a few pounds, either.