Swine Flu 4.98: I guess that's why they call it the news

Swine Flu is still on hiatus, and few mourn its exile (except the folks where it’s exiled to, South and Southwest, right now) — according to:


Something finally went right: it finally seems to penetrate the collective consciousness that, though swine flu is not significantly worse than seasonal flu, it is not so much a dismissal of swine flu as a threat as it is a renewed realization of seasonal flu as a significant perennial problem. This is from a CDC report from 2004:

During the 2003-04 season, CDC requested that states report deaths in children < 18 years of age who tested positive for influenza. As of May 31, 2004, 152 influenza-associated deaths in U.S. residents aged < 18 years were reported by 40 states. All patients had influenza virus infection detected by rapid antigen testing, viral culture, or other laboratory methods. The pediatric data are preliminary and subject to change as more information becomes available.

That’s 152 pediatric deaths in one season from seasonal flu alone, confirmed cases only. Cumulative total for 2008-2009 so far, including the seasonal spike and BOTH the spring and the fall H1N1 spikes, is 128. That’s not to belittle H1N1; that’s to put it in perspective — and I think the perspective is becoming clearer and clearer, and I say this because demand for seasonal flu vaccine this year is far above last year’s.

The WCBS interview with which I start this blog post is only about 5 minutes, and I hope I made my points clearly: I support the vaccine, both seasonal and swine, both injectable and nasal. I mentioned the 1976 (misspoke; said 1975 in the interview) vaccine as the worst-case scenario — even if current vaccine were as bad as that one had been, it would still be worth taking; and I think we as healthcare workers should take the vaccines both for our own sakes and for our patients and our families — and I can’t think of a better way for the state to discourage people from getting the vaccine than by making it mandatory. This is still America. You know, the land of the free and the home of the brave –

– and you have to be really brave to pass up the flu vaccine. So go get yours. In spite of it being mandatory. Save your protests for something important. I don’t think the government will keep you waiting long for some really bad initiatives worth demonstrating against.


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