This year’s ‘flus are no laughing matter

by Jewish Report | Jun 01, 2015

Earlier this month I looked after my grandson, a joy beyond all joys, especially as he slept over for the night.

He was sniffing, lethargic and, as my Afrikaans friends are wont to say, ate with long teeth. In the morning he seemed hot so I took his temperature with one of these new-fangled thermometers that you point at the ear, press a button and it instantly provides the number.

I myself was brought in the “lift your tongue and don’t move a muscle for a minute” era of mercury in glass thermometers (in Fahrenheit). I brought my own kids up with what was then a new-fangled method of placing a plastic strip on the forehead for half a minute or so and see which number came up.

Now it’s a case of point, press, and Bob’s your uncle!

So when I saw his temperature was over 39 degrees, I blamed the contraption. “It can’t be,” I thought. So I beeped him again.. exactly 39. Again, …38.9 this time. “That’s better,” I thought, and called his mother – safe in the thought that I hadn’t ‘temperatured’ the poor child into a comatose state.

“Err, I think you should take him to the doctor, he has a temperature over 38…” which was a nicer (safer) way to say it than “almost 39”.

Well, needless to say, he had the ‘flu – mine followed two days later – and a week later I am still suffering.

“Sorry,” was the best advice the doctor could give me. “You should have had the vaccine.”

I had been discussing with my siblings just a week earlier whether to have a ‘flu vac. A lot of old wives’ tales came up and I decided not to have it.

I trust my doctor implicitly and debunked some of my previously-held beliefs (some of which may have been true in years gone by):

  1. ‘Flu shots are for current strains, not previous years’ strains. In fact, when they were shipped to SA some months ago they were sent back as an important current strain had been left out. (Some may have found they arrived late this year. That’s the reason why).
  2. ‘Flu shots cover a variety of possible strains. There are apparently some this year considerably worse than the one I have;
  3. ‘Flu shots given by your doctor are exactly the same as those given at pharmacies;
  4. There is almost no likelihood of developing ‘flu FROM the shot; and
  5. While one will not likely be re-infected by the same strain of ‘flu, there are lots more out there looking for you.

As soon as I have kicked this one, I am certainly going back for the ‘flu shot. I’d hate to think what the worse 'flus are !like


  1. 7 Len Fielding 03 Jun
    Ant, every day I scan the SAJR online and
    every day you deliver a tour de force. I’m also only too familiar with the groundbreaking work you did at UPE, my alma mater. So it came as surprise to
    read this article.

    Ant – given all that we know about modern medicine – I don’t see how you can argue that vaccinations are just "bobba meisers"; that they have no demonstrable medicinal value beyond the psychosomatic and superstitious.

    Of course that doesn’t mean you have to
    like them. I myself have a crippling fear ever since I visited the doctor as a terrified kid. The doctor reassured me it was only a small prick, but the one he rammed into my tender 7-year-old rear was enormous and hurt like hell (so much so that my mother took me for counseling afterwards).

     The point is, Ant – regardless of how painful they can be – they work. 

    But whatever the case may be, keep writing my dear sir. The SAJR is a brighter place for it.

    PS, while the “Bob’s your uncle” bit was 
    hilarious, perhaps the sexual innuendo isn’t all that appropriate given that this is a family paper?

    Len Fielding (Waverley)
  2. 6 Ant Katz 04 Jun
    HI Len, I think either I didn't make my point well enough, or you missed it. Either way, I am emphatically in favour of vaccinations and was attempting to DEBUNK, not support, the bobba meisers.

    Ant Katz
  3. 5 Dennis Silber 05 Jun
    Hi Ant,

    With all due respect, your response to Len makes no sense at all. You clearly state in your (albeit excellently penned op-ed) that flu vaccines are invalid and detrimental to ones long-term health.

    Please clarify your position as this is something we as readers are quite interested in.

    Warm regards,
    Dennis Silber, Dowerglen
  4. 4 Ant Katz 05 Jun
    Hi Dennis, obviously I re-read what I had written when Len commented.

    I say: I trust my doctor implicitly and debunked some of my previously-held beliefs (some of which may have been true in years gone by):

    I then proceed to debunk some of my previously-held beliefs - before ending with: As soon as I have kicked this one, I am certainly going back for the ‘flu shot. I’d hate to think what the worse 'flus are like!

    I think this clearly shows that I AM IN FAVOUR OF VACCINATION AND WISH I HAD HAD IT DONE SOONER. I will be having them every year from now on.
  5. 3 Dennis Silber 05 Jun
    Thanks for the clarity, Ant

  6. 2 Flor Edelstein 08 Jun
    Ant, with respect, this flu article is not backed by the facts -  this really goes against your grain as a thorough invesitgative journalist. I’m thinking of the Rabbi Berland and Darren Sevitz stories you broke. That took balls. When those stories broke, we really did feel “Ant in our pants”. This on the other hand appears to be limp apologetics. You call them “previously-held beliefs”. How can we be so sure you don’t hold by them anymore? Sorry to drag this up again after the other commenters brought it up, but the SAJR is where so many of us rely on for our news, and we need to be absolutely sure the person disseminating that news doesn't hold by primitive, long-discredited beliefs.
  7. 1 Eusebius McKaiser 08 Jun
    A colleague of mine forwarded this to me
    over the weekend, expressing her outrage. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I honestly don’t see anything censurable in this article. The author clearly
    states that he is pro-vaccinations, and that any doubts he held on this matter are consigned to the past. What is it that people don’t understand? Shall we burn him at the stake for the foolish beliefs he had in his youth? Who among us hasn’t, over time, radically reformed the wrongful notions we may have clung to in the past?

    Eusebius Mckaiser


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