Kirby: Ah, vaccines, where one good shot deserves another and another and another

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Robert Kirby

I am fully vaccinated. This is not to say that I am protected from every disease or malady currently plaguing humankind, only that I’m medically up to date on what’s available.

My past three vaccinations were for shingles, flu and tetanus. My wife makes sure I get the last one because I’m clumsy, don’t pay attention, and have idiot hobbies/friends.

The earliest vaccine memories I have are from my father’s career. Being a military family, we moved every 25 minutes. It was important that we were immunized against whatever bugs the next place might serve up.

This meant Mom — not the Old Man — had to drag her four kids screaming and crying to the base/post dispensary for our relocation jabs.

Since we were military brats and knew the drill, she couldn’t lie to us about it. None of this, “We’re going to get some ice cream after we visit a nice man” or “This won’t hurt at all.”

Bull. With each hand maintaining a grip on two heads of hair, Mom would “shepherd” us in for our updated inoculations so we could move to places even God rarely visited.

Typhus, diphtheria, smallpox, chickenpox, measles, syphilis, rubella, whooping cough, mumps, hepatitis, etc. I’m not sure about syphilis. I just threw it in the mix because we got stabbed for everything that was available.

My siblings were afraid of needles. Me, I just hated doctors. The loathing stemmed from a “Let’s see what happens” moment when I was really young and a friend fired part of a toothpick into my belly with a BB gun.

It took a medical tech an eternity to get it all, during which I astonished my father with words he didn’t think I knew.

Note: His surprise was ridiculous, given that it’s impossible to raise kids in the military (or on a farm) without them picking up the vernacular. Look at it as a social vaccine.

After four years, we returned to America, where a vaccine for polio was delivered on a sugar cube.

It was incredibly tame. The entire school lined up and waited like livestock for our treat. Since I was looking forward to the pandemonium of classmates losing it over needles, I was sorely disappointed.

Once the family moves stopped, my own started. By then vaccines were delivered en masse via air. At Fort Jackson, S.C., entire battalions of us rolled up our sleeves and trudged through a firing line of pneumatic guns.

Occasionally, some guy would faint. For the rest of basic training, he was subjected to a rigorous emotional vaccine process commonly known as peer mockery. If that doesn’t toughen one’s immune system, I don’t know what will.

After the military, there were immunizations required to serve a mission in South America — rabies, yellow fever, cholera or whatever else was needed to inoculate us against the evil effects of certain pathogens. If nicotine patches had been available, I would have demanded them.

Humans will always have need for vaccinations that help prevent or better manage serious ailments. A vaccine for cancer springs to mind.

It would also be wonderful to find one that prevented the brain from cellphone use while driving, inappropriate behavior on social media, and reduced the effect of taking ourselves so seriously.

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.