James Lileks
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I finally got a shingles shot. I hope there's no hail in the next week or I'll have to get another.

Ha ha! You know, because, shingles? OK, sorry. And yes, if you're saying, "You actually have to get two shingles shots for full immunity," you're correct. I am slated to get repoked in July, along with my monkeypox vaccine.

Then again, maybe I won't double up on the shots. I got my COVID booster (the 16th, I think; my vaccine card folds out like a road map) the same day I got the shingles vaccine, and the two did not agree. A friend did the same and said he felt like a bus hit him, but I don't think that's accurate.

A bus hits you, you don't feel anything at all after the initial surprise.

I felt more like a punching bag used by a professional boxer who just learned that his alimony payments were increasing. Not a lot. Say, 10%.

Hold on, you say. Monkeypox vaccine? Is there monkeypox loose in the land?

Yes. If you haven't heard, we have a confirmed case of monkeypox, aka chimp blisters, in the United States. (At least as of this writing. By the time this hits the paper they'll probably be dynamiting bridges in Manhattan and welding people into their homes.) USA Today says it's "from the same family of viruses as smallpox," which makes you wonder: Is it smallpox's brother? Uncle? Third cousin? Are they on speaking terms? Do they exchange cards at Christmas? If monkeypox is smallpox's child, is smallpox disappointed because it's less lethal? "These kids today, they just don't have the same initiative."

The symptoms, as you might expect, consist of "feeling poorly." Fever. Chills. Weariness. Headaches. Muscle pangs. Like the flu, or COVID, or a cold — except within 24 hours you are breaking into a Cub at 3 a.m. for bananas.

Ha ha! Because, you know, monkeys! Sorry. No, I'm not going to make up a list of fake monkey-symptoms, as if monkeypox turns you into a hooting, poop-flinging simian.

The name comes from the species in which it was first detected, in 1958. Since then it's been confined to central and western Africa, but there's been an outbreak in Europe this year, and that's why it's in the news. Twenty guys in England get excessively scabby, and the whole media lights up with another plague panic.

We've been here before. The United States had an outbreak in 2003. Do you remember that? No.

Wikipedia: "All cases were traced to Gambian pouched rats imported from Accra, Ghana, in April 2003 by a Texas exotic animal distributor." I imagine that set the pouched rat public image back a few degrees. Right on the verge of replacing dogs, and this has to happen.

No one died. Likewise, no one has died in the current outbreak. But we're going to have to hear about it from TV newsreaders with solemn, concerned expressions leaning forward slightly to emphasize the importance of being Monkeypox Aware.

The disease can be spread by sneezing, which gives you one more reason to stare daggers at people who issue a sudden spasmodic gust in public. "You want to blow that Bonzo juice in the crook of your elbow, pal?"

I think we'll be fine. This will be the Murder Hornets of 2022.

I should note that there's no vaccine for it, although those who got a smallpox shot as kids might have some protection hanging around. You might have some ancient antibodies that have been sitting in a La-Z-Boy for 50 years, snoring, and suddenly someone bursts through the office door: "Sheriff, you've got to do something! Bart Monkeypox is in town, and he's sayin' you're yella!"

The antibody jerks awake, fumbles for its badge and gun belt, thinking, "I'm too old for this."

We'll see. I'm more concerned about shingles, just because I know a few people who got it, and said it felt as if eight industrious men speaking Spanish are climbing all over you, puncturing your skin with staple guns.

Here's the thing, though. You might get shingles if you had chickenpox as a kid. Chickenpox is in the same family as Mr. Small and Cousin Monkey. If shingles comes from having chickenpox, does getting monkeypox later give you tiles?