True story: I’m riding in the back of a limo with U2’s Bono and Arizona Sports 98.7 FM talk show host Luke Lapinski. Luke generously lends me his phone so I can catch a selfie with Bono because I’m carrying a 1990s-era Nokia that doesn’t even have a camera. While trying to figure out why my mobile carrier hasn’t upgraded me in 20 years, I have a very nice chat with Bono about how much I respect his humanitarian work and how I’ve seen his band three times – including twice at Sun Devil Stadium.
OK… This isn’t a true story in the sense that it actually happened. But it is true that I had the flu over Christmas and that all of this happened in a feverish dream that felt truly real.
That’s probably why it hurt so bad when Bono moved to the front seat – the notion that the world’s greatest rock star deemed my company too obnoxious to suffer created a pain that felt incredibly real. Maybe he just got tired of all the coughing and ache-filled groans my flu brought. Or he wanted to make sure the limo driver felt important. That seems very Bono-like.
Man, illness creates craziness, does it not? Weird delusion. And I got this cray-cray with just a mild case of the flu. Mild, because my wife insists that we get a flu shot every year.
Before medical science started treating disease (opposed to merely its symptoms), humans partook in plenty o’ lunacy: Cutting open veins to drain out “bad blood” was a common practice for centuries. People rubbed live chickens on open sores to cure the Black Plague. They drilled holes in heads to relieve headaches. They got goat testicle grafts to cure infertility.
And they wouldn’t get their kids inoculated because they claimed vaccinations caused autism.
Oh, wait. That particular insanity is a present-day plague.
According to a study published in June by the Public Library of Science, Maricopa County issued the most nonmedical exemptions (NMEs) for vaccinations of any metro area in the United States. Arizona is one of 18 states that allows religious and philosophical-belief NMEs, and we are one of 12 states that has seen an overall, upward trend in those NMEs since 2009.
That’s troubling. Not because Bono and the boys might skip Arizona on their next tour – I’ve already seen them plenty – and not because I have a kindergartner at home. She’s been vaccinated, so she’s not susceptible to kids who might be carrying the measles, chicken pox and mumps – all diseases that have seen a recent resurgence in the U.S. thanks, in part, to people who refuse to get their children vaccinated.
No, I’m worried for the kids who have a legitimate reason to not get vaccinated. They may have compromised immune systems or life-threatening allergies to the components of certain vaccines. They can’t get immunized, so their parents count on the rest of us to do the right thing.
By the way, legitimate reasons to not get your kid immunized don’t include receiving medical advice – via social media – from an anti-vax celebrity like Jenny McCarthy, Alicia Silverstone (who’s also strangely anti-diaper?!) or Charlie Sheen. Actually, a good rule of thumb is to not take Charlie Sheen’s advice on anything.
You’re much better off allowing my fever-derived apparitions of celebrities to guide you to get a flu shot.
To that end, I should’ve asked Bono to record a public service announcement. It might have gone something like this: “Hi, this is Bono. Avoid riding in limos with weird people where the streets have no name because you have a fever that feels like the unforgettable fire. New Year’s Day can be a beautiful day – in fact, even better than the real thing if you’re not sick with the flu. So take pride (in the name of love) and ignore that manky scanger Jenny McCarthy. I will follow if you get your flu shots and immunize your wee ones.
“Now, please, give your mate his phone back.”
Yeah, Bono definitely moved to the front seat because I’m irritating. I’m surprised Luke Lapinski didn’t end up there as well before we dropped him off at the Coyotes game.
Jim Sharpe is the host of Arizona’s Morning News on KTAR-FM 92.3 (weekdays 5-9 a.m.). Visit ktar.com to find more information about his on-air work.