Right now there is a wave of some sort of cold or flu rapidly progressing through the Kearney household. As you parents know, that means that we get less sleep while we stay up to tend to our sick kids, which in turn reduces our immune system and then we get it. And nobody likes that.
While I sit up tending to my kids occasionally while my beloved wife catches a few Zzzs on the couch (she looks too beautiful sleeping there for me to have the heart to disturb her) I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts on the current pandemic worries that are all the rage.
Is the Swine Flu really as bad as they say it is?
I’ll be honest. I don’t buy into the hype around the swine flu right now. I just don’t see any credible evidence that it’s worse than the seasonal flu strains that ravage the population every year. Except they don’t ravage the population. Folks get flu shots, some folks get sick, and every year a few people die. The most common casualties are those with weak immune systems (small children and the elderly) and the already sick. It happens.
According to the CDC, you have between 5 and 20 percent chance of coming down with the flu on any given year. Call it 12.5%, which means that about 37 or 38 million folks get the flu every year in this country. Of which 40,000 die. A mortality rate of about 0.1%. To save our brains, I asked my kid to do the math, and she says that your chances of dying from the regular run of the mill flu in a given year is
0.01%, or about 1 in 750,000. For comparison sake, you are more likely to drown in your bathtub (1:685,000), win an olympic medal (1:662,000) or be struck by lightning (1:576,000). God forbid you drive a car since your chances of dying in an accident are 1 in 18,585.
Anyways, back to swine flu. As I said before, I haven’t seen any real credible evidence that the swine flu has a higher mortality rate. There were scary numbers coming from Mexico, but once the swine flu hit the US that scary mortality rate hit the floor. A credible theory I’ve heard for this is the difference in the quality of medical care we have here vs in Mexico. Based on current CDC numbers, your chances of dying so far this year due to Swine Flu is 1 in 43,227,666.
Pretty good odds, if you ask me.
Well great, nothing to prepare for!
Not so fast. The big problem with swine flu is the panic. Remember bird flu? Or what about SARS? None of these caused any significant amount of deaths, but boy was the media in a tizzy about it. Doom and gloom on every channel and radio station. That is the big danger in my mind. Panic, frenzy, and outright paranoia based on awful news reports. Think quarantine here. Are you prepared for a quarantine situation? The World Health Organization is calling it a pandemic. What happens if the ‘Powers That Be’ decide that we should proactively quarantine in place. Couldn’t happen? Have you heard about the potential for mandatory vaccinations yet?
Vaccination? Sweet, I get the flu shot every year anyways…
Well, this is definitely the cause of great consternation. I don’t like having things shoved down my throat any more than anyone else does. The thought of being forced to get a shot that I don’t necessarily want to have just chaps my hide. I don’t even get a flu shot most of the time. That said if you sit and think about it we all have had plenty of vaccinations in our life time. Our kids have as well. Sure there’s a reaction sometimes, and sometimes people get seriously sick from them, but by and large they’re a good thing. Heard of anyone coming down with polio lately?
On the flip side, there are folks with significant concerns about the mandatory vaccine. One of the best posts I’ve seen on it was written by Kellene over at Preparedness Pro. Go read it when you’re done here. The one issue I have her post is #4. My little sister is a nurse and I asked her about Thimerosal, and apparently this is used widely in quite a few medicines and vaccines. I personally don’t know anything about it, and you should do your own research and decide for yourself.
For the record, I don’t plan to take the vaccination. My wife and I are still talking about the kids, but I don’t plan to take it. Not really because I’m paranoid but because I usually don’t take it anyways. The flu sucks when you have it. But since the vaccine companies are rolling the dice when they decide what strains to vaccinate against in any given year, I’m willing to take my chances.
What about that quarantine?
Another topic for a future post! Sorry, it’s late and I need some sleep to be able to tend to sick kids tomorrow.
Rudy’s Completely Off Topic Recommendation: Since we’re talking about pandemics and all, I thought I’d recommend a board game my wife and I love to play called, oddly enough, Pandemic! It’s a fun cooperative game and it’s wonderful fun. My mother even enjoyed playing with us the last time we had our Sort Of Regular Kearney Family Camping Trip. Anyways, check it out, you might like it!