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Doug Clark: At inoculation trough, babies hog the good stuff

I had a depressing experience while getting my flu shot the other day.

I asked the nice young woman who had just drilled my left shoulder when I could come back to the drugstore for one of those rare and special swine flu inoculations.

It’s not that I like needles. I don’t.

But there’s been so much hype (har) about swine flu shots lately.

I don’t want to miss out. The limited supply of vaccine makes the injection a real status symbol. You know, like driving a Jaguar or having your own bus bench advertisement.

Anyway, the woman examined my chart. She told me I didn’t fit into one of the “at risk” groups the government has pegged as flu-shot priorities.

Which are:

Pregnant women. Adults who care for or live with infants. Humans 6 months to 24 years of age. Humans ages 25 to 64 who have chronic health problems …

And, of course, the U.S. dollar, which is in such a frail state. One common cold germ could wipe it out.

Sadly, however, none of the aforementioned subcategories is made for a 58-year-old bald columnist with a bum left knee.

I’m an American, dammit. Unlike children and many people with chronic health problems, I pay taxes.

I deserve viral protection.

I do take precautions. I try to wash my hands at least once or twice a day. And when sneezing, I always turn my head and force the spray into an open air space.

It’s nice to share.

Some people are angry at pigs for bringing this malady upon us.

Not me. My affection for the squealing barnyard beasts began as a child when my father, a true barbecue pioneer, roasted an entire suckling pig on a motorized spit he installed into our living room fireplace.

Actually, it wasn’t quite a whole pig. The oinker turned out to be a bit too long for fireplace dimensions. So my dad did a Henry VIII on the critter’s head. VoilÀ! A perfect fit.

Yum. That was some tasty swine!

A frugal man, my father even found a use for the pig’s noggin.

He affixed a pointy paper hat on the head and added a pair of sunglasses. Then he wrapped his porcine treasure in holiday paper and took it to a New Year’s party, where he secretly placed the decapitated head near his host’s record albums.

The screams and fits of laughter evoked by this gag were epic, he said.

In a stab at sympathy, my drugstore inoculator asked if my job put me at an above-average risk for swine flu exposure.

If that were the case I might be a vaccine exception.

No, I told her glumly.

“I work at the newspaper.”

Oh, the newsroom was once a highly contagious place. But with all the layoffs, furloughs, downsizing …

Well, there’s barely anybody left from which to catch something.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at