Ages ago, we thought we had a cure for cooties in the youth population: the cootie shot.
The disease itself could usually go untreated without ill effect; the real problem was the secondary social stigma that came with being a carrier. Once the other kids found out that you had cooties, your social life would be roasted, toasted… burnt to a crisp. Play dates? Canceled. Sleepovers? In your dreams. And, honestly, who would want to go to your birthday party?
Yes, it was that bad.
From this culture the cootie shot was born, and fear of cooties could make even the biggest wimp forget he was afraid of shots — this was a serious problem for which there was no other treatment. Even the children whose parents’ questionable scientific beliefs kept them far away from vaccinations could be found seeking treatment in the dark alleys of the schoolyard, because cooties — not chicken pox or whatever — was the one illness that could keep you up at night, worrying well past your bedtime.
The cootie shot was supposed to be a bulletproof defense against every known strain. It was supposed to offer a second chance at childhood.
Getting vaccinated worked like this: a typically unlicensed practitioner with questionable medical training would administer the shot by speaking the following incantation in a singsong voice, while using their finger to trace the noted shapes on your body.
Circle circle, dot dot
Now you’ve got the cootie shot
But that’s just the first stage of the vaccine cocktail. Perhaps your forearm would be protected, but what about every other part? If you didn’t continue the full course of treatment, cooties would likely gain a foothold and basically ruin your entire life.
Circle circle, square square
Now you’ve got it everywhere
At this point, you’d be safe until the shot wore off… which by the way, it would do almost instantly. Kids were still getting infected left and right, so the greatest medical minds on the playground came up with what seemed like a silver bullet for this public health crisis.
Circle circle, knife knife
Now you’ve got it for your life
Only now could you breathe easy — you were finally immune. Not even the yuckiest girl1 could cause you harm.
At least that’s how it used to work. Once a panacea, a hope for a better tomorrow, cootie shots have become scarce. This easily‐preventable ailment joins measles, polio and whooping cough as again something we must once again worry about.
What happened? Make‐believe medical professionals today — with their hands tied by a well‐known enemy of healthy and happy population — can be heard all too often singing a very different song:
Circle circle, shame shame
Your HMO denied your claim
- Everyone knows that females are the main carriers of cooties, and those bitches are everywhere. ↩