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Stop whining about the damn flu!


OK, let’s get a grip. Swine flu is the least of your worries. This is a media circus of ridiculous proportion. Swine flu (caused by a variation of type A influenza) has infected 40 people in the US so far. That’s hardly anything to go out and buy a facemask over. Only two people have needed hospitalization and none have died. So, calm down, breath deeply, and take the quarantine sign off the front door.

This is the kind of crap that makes me furious. People are completely freaked out about this and there’s no reason to be. Yes, this is a new strain of swine influenza. Yes, it appears to be passed from human to human. Yes, there will probably be many more people infected. Some elderly or immune-compromised people may die. But are you aware that regular influenza infects 50 million people every year and kills 35,000! If you want to worry about something, worry about why you chose not to immunize your children from influenza last fall when you had the chance. There’s a way better chance your kid will contract the plain old garden version of influenza than the more exotic south-of-the border version everyone’s so panicked over.

It would be nice if the media had something better to do than terrorize the nation over a treatable virus that could maybe, perhaps, it’s within the realm of possibility, mutate into some kind of out-of-control, drug resistant pandemic. Swine flu (which is extremely susceptible to our anti-viral drugs) does not pose a serious health risk to most Americans. So can we please talk about something really dangerous like a nuclear-armed Iran or why the hell fiancée Megan Mcallister is standing by her Craigslist Killer man Phillip Markoff? I mean that’s something worth talking about.

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About gettrich

Debra Rich Gettleman is a professional actor, playwright and journalist living in Seattle, WA with her husband Mark and two amazing boys, Levi and Eli.

5 responses to “Stop whining about the damn flu!

  1. jojom28 ⋅

    Why does the media do this? Isn’t there enough important news to write about? First it was the “disaster” of Avian flu. Then West Nile. Before that was Mad Cow disease. The media made us give up tomatoes, throw away our peanut butter, get rid of half of our kid’s plastic toys. I’m getting sick of this. I don’t want to be scared of everything in the universe!

  2. Erin ⋅

    Learning from the past: when pigs fly- the swine flu

    By the end of January 1976, 155 soldiers at Fort Dix reported positive for swine flu antibodies. 1976 was two years after Watergate caused Nixon’s resignation, and one year after the fall of Saigon. The U.S. government, both Republicans and Democrats, had never been held in such low esteem. Practically every elected official felt an overwhelming itch that patriotic year to do something to get the public thinking of them as good guys again. A swine flu pandemic was an opportunity on a plate. What better way to get into the good graces of the voters than to save them from a plague?
    Between March 13 and March 24, the U.S. government dealt with the perceived flu emergency at fever pitch. The vaccine request went from the CDC to the secretary of HEW (Department of Health, Education and Welfare, the forerunner of today’s Department of Health and Human Services), and reached the president’s desk in less than a week. On March 24, the day after he lost the North Carolina primary to Ronald Reagan, President Gerald Ford welcomed the top virologists in the nation to a meeting in the White House and asked them if the nation was facing a swine flu epidemic. Would mass vaccinations be necessary? The doctors all said yes.
    Congress, with few exceptions, raced to support the bill. Knowing the Republican president would not, could not veto a bill he requested, the Democratically controlled House attached $1.8 billion dollars in welfare and environmental spending to the flu bill. President Ford signed the bill on April 15, 1976, and incorrectly remarked to the press that the Fort Dix swine flu was identical to the deadly 1918 variety. He announced the immunization program would begin in October.
    Congress began to pressure the drug companies to work faster toward development of a swine flu vaccine. The drug companies insisted that proper vaccine development required years of experimentation and clinical trials, and they were reluctant to develop and distribute an untested drug.

    On Aug. 5, the head of the CDC was able to testify before Congress and announce conclusively that the Legionnaires had recently died of a new disease, a type of pneumonia that was definitely not swine flu. President Ford went on television that night and delivered a speech to the nation, telling Americans that Congress will be to blame for your deaths when the flu season begins in October. Congress caved in, and on Aug. 15, President Ford signed the National Influenza Immunization Program (NIIP). This set as a goal the immunization of at least 80 percent of the U.S. population, indemnified the drug companies and left vague the government’s power to limit the drug companies’ profit. The drug companies got to work.
    On Oct. 1, 1976, the immunization program began. By Oct. 11, approximately 40 million people had received swine flu immunizations, mostly through the new compressed air vaccination guns. That evening, in Pittsburgh, came the first blow to the immunization program: Three senior citizens died soon after receiving their swine flu shots. The media outcry, linking the deaths to the immunizations without any proof, was so loud it drew an on-air rebuke from CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite, who warned his colleagues of the dangers of post hoc ergo propter hoc (“after this, therefore, because of this”) thinking. But it was too late. The government had long feared mass panic about swine flu — now they feared mass panic about the swine flu vaccinations.
    The deaths in Pittsburgh, though proved not to be related to the vaccine, were a strong setback to the program. The death blow came a few weeks later when reports appeared of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a paralyzing neuromuscular disorder, among some people who had received swine flu immunizations. The public refused to trust a government-operated health program that killed old people and crippled young people; as a result, less than 33 percent of the population had been immunized by the end of 1976. The National Influenza Immunization Program was effectively halted on Dec. 16.
    The 1976 to 1977 flu season was the most flu-free since records had been kept; a condition that was apparently unrelated to the vaccination program. The Great Swine Flu Epidemic of 1976 never took place!

  3. misc ⋅

    this is why I don’t immunize. too much politics. too much bullsh*t. among many other very good reasons of coarse.

  4. MLH ⋅

    I have a senior about to graduate from high school. The joke is that her class calls themselves “The Swine of ’09.”

  5. Kellie ⋅

    I have to say I agree 100%. I had no idea about any of this until the day I was travelling home from VA and was in the Dallas airport with people walking around with face masks on. Scared the cr*p outta me, for no reason. My husband is an EMT at a local valley hospital ER and said that families are coming in throngs (with no symptoms mind you) who want to be tested because their kids were playing with the kids next door from Mexico. (They live here, mind you) Are you flippin’ kiddin’ me?! And not to mention that every store in town is SOLD OUT of hand sanitizer and face masks. They have notes out saying so. Unbelievable. If it were Ebola, sure, that would be something to freak out over. But not this. As Debra said, we have more to worry about over your normal everyday flu than this. Get a grip and maintain yourselves. Sheesh.

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