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Are you afraid of phantom leeches?

Have you been “leeched” lately? Well, you may have been, according a friend of mine.

I was talking with a guy the other day — an individual who is intelligent and educated — and I was lamenting the fact that it is almost that time of year when the creeping crud seems to infest most families and workplaces.

You know what I mean.

Everyone starts to cough, sneeze and have a runny nose. It is basically passed around from one person to another. That was when he dropped that bombshell on me.

In his eyes, supposedly there was some obscure medical references he was using to back this up, flu shots and vaccinations like them are essentially modern day leeching, with the implication being that the idea that these shots help you is a vast misconception.

I beg to differ. So does the majority of doctors.

But thanks to one of the beauties of modern technology, the Internet puts vast amounts knowledge just a few clicks away.

It didn’t take long before I built a strong case with lots of evidence that, at least in my mind, was irrefutable.

But still he remained less than convinced. And although my friend’s views may be extreme they’re also a perfect example of how some people get ideas in their head and refuse to budge from them. (I think both political parties are guilty of this right now.)

These types of perceptions are what hurts our communities and harkens us back to the dark ages when things like leeching were a common practice.

Flu vaccines aren’t leeches. They aren’t placebos. They aren’t going to make you sick. They are medicine, plain and simple.

The best physicians in our country, and ultimately our world, work to create these vaccines. One or two people can be wrong but the odds of the entire medical community being so far off-base is greater than the chances of my winning the lottery tomorrow — without buying a ticket.

Both the Lawrence County and City of Ironton health departments have flu shots available, as does nearly every pharmacy, physicians office and even other public places like library and grocery stores.

The cost is simply too low to justify passing on something when the risk is so high.

But don’t take my word for it. Ask your doctor. Do your own research. Get informed.

Or you can be the guy talking about leeches.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.