The real issue with swine flu/H1N1 flu/whatever’s PC now

The main reason health officials are worried about H1N1 is not because it is somehow deadlier than other flus. The flu is pretty deadly. It kills around the same number of Americans each year as car accidents. That’s why we have flu vaccines; we try to predict which flu strain will be the most common and then prepare ourselves for it.

The issue with swine flu is that we don’t yet have a vaccine. We had no idea it was coming, so we were unprepared. As with any other flu, people who are very old, very young, and who have health conditions are the most at risk of actually dying, but anyone is in danger if they don’t take care of themselves.

Because we weren’t prepared for this, there’s more of a chance that it will affect more people. And the more people who end up sick, the harder it is for the nation to go about its business. If no one at a certain factory is able to work, for example, that’s a huge hit to that company and to all the other companies that depend on it. If police, firemen, doctors, and/or nurses get sick, that’s a safety issue. We need to have enough healthy, well people in our society to function.

So you can stop worrying about dying from swine flu. Instead, worry about staying healthy. Wash your hands and encourage others to. Eat right, get enough rest. And don’t let fear of the flu cripple your life.


  1. The swine flu is being really overblown here in the states. I hate to sound like I need a tin-foil hat, but I think it is in part the CDC and HHS trying to justify that they need a bigger budget. I get the feeling that the CDC/HHS people were sort of celebrating the outbreak since it would push funding to them. More people die everyday from mundane infections and flu than have from the H1N1 so far.

    I am already sick of the CDC e-mails and bulletins they are spamming to health care providers.


  2. I actually wondered a little bit when you first posted about the swine flu, as you seemed very adamant about how dangerous it was. I guess I was more on Kelly’s page of things, even though I’d heard warning very much like yours in numerous other places. I didn’t respond right away, but tonight a thought struck me while rereading the dream you had in the post after this one.

    Now, I can’t say more about how you felt about it at first than we can read on your blog. So maybe I don’t know the extent to which you considered the swine flu.

    But.. Do you think that your initial reaction might have been somewhat influenced by what you hear and see at your place of work? I’m not saying that your newsroom is full of hypochondriacs, but obviously you got to see, from “in the newsroom”, the crazy initial reaction of, well, the media when it first started happening.

  3. Yes, at first I was very much influenced by the zillions of news releases I had to delete from my inbox talking about the dangers of swine flu. Eventually I realized that it was just…the flu. But people I knew were saying things like “there has to be more to it, or they wouldn’t keep making such a big deal about it”. So that’s why I wrote my follow-up post.

    Being astonished at hypochondriacs only came later, when I joked I had the swine flu and several coworkers looked at me like I had the plague.

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