Monday, October 18, 2004

Sick of the Flu: [By the way, I am fully aware that by writing the following I'm guaranteeing myself a strong dose of the influenza virus in the ensuing months, but this needs to be said...for the good of us all.]

"The sky is falling, the sky is falling!" No, not Chicken Little, but just about everyone else in the media or medical establishment with regard to the flu season. Now, before I go on my rant, it is true that some English company that makes about half of the U.S. supply of the flu vaccine somehow, in some way, went kaput, and so, we're short by several million doses. Accordingly, there is some merit to the notion that the flu season will not be fun.

However, the undisputed facts are that over 90% of the fatalities from flu are people over 65. Now, does this mean I'm insensitive to the lives of our elderly population? No. But these folks are, to be blunt, the weakest among us, and are much more likely to die, if not from the flu, then from many other illnesses or accidents. Hmm, that sounded pretty callous too.

I guess what I mean is that the flu isn't going to wipe out a disproportionate number of us. The average "season" results in about 36,000 flu-related deaths. This is approximately the same number of elderly americans that die from "accidents" each year as well. In many cases, the flu aggravates a pre-existing condition, which may have resulted in death anyway. The point is no one tells us how many otherwise brimming-with-health people are suddenly struck down by the flu. That, in my humble opinion, would be the more telling statistic.

But every year, the media screams at us, to incite out-and-out panic, that the killer flu is on the way, and that there's really no hope, so you should just give up. And every year, we see pictures of lines of older folks, standing in the cold or heat, trying desperately to get that last bit of vaccine ("Will they make it, or will they die on the spot? Pictures at 11!"). Every year.

You would think in a country that ensure that every last person gets to see a television ad decrying Kerry's swift boat service, that we could organize a few doctors to make sure that the vaccine went to those who most need it. It would seem that a few reassuring words from doctors, along the lines of -- "We've learned from our previous errors. We have stockpiled more than enough vaccine, and everyone in risk that needs one, will get it. You may now go about your daily lives." -- just might do the trick.

I remember last year was supposed to be one of the worst. Why? No one knows, but surely, a pandemic was upon us. I remember hearing on the Today Show about a young boy who was struck down by the virus in Colorado. I braced myself for the onslaught of deaths, and then....nothing. Again, I don't discount those who have died, I just mean the flu killed no more than any other year.

Wash your hands, stay home if you feel sick, and above all, turn off your t.v. Just read FauxPolitik. Everything here is rosy, 24/7 (except when Eno ties one on).

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