I'm a news junkie, so I've read all about the get-it-or-avoid-it H1N1 vaccine debate. And I've read about how H1N1 is different from the seasonal flu (hint: you need to go to the hospital to find out), how H1N1 is a pandemic, how H1N1 has killed seemingly healthy teenagers, blah blah blah.
And I hate it. I hate every word of it.
Why? Because every news website I open contains articles about H1N1. The Globe and Mail? H1N1. The Ottawa Citizen? H1N1. Toronto Star? H1N1. The National Post? H1N1.
Yet all this coverage has failed to convince me that H1N1 is far worse than the regular flu. Let's look at the symptoms (courtesy of The Globe and Mail):
Almost identical—there's virtually no way we can know the difference without getting a blood test. Should we go to the hospital if we get sick? Yes, provided we have H1N1 and have difficulty breathing. But if we have the seasonal flu, we're supposed to avoid going to the hospital (or so the article implies).
What happens when we get to the hospital to find out if we have H1N1? We'll have to wait in a waiting room filled with other sick people, then go into another room that was occupied by sick people, then deal with a doctor who's dealt with sick people, then (maybe) go to a pharmacist who's interacted with sick people, and then go back home.
If we don't have H1N1, then that's a lot of interaction where we could potentially catch H1N1. And if we have H1N1, that's a lot of interaction where we could spread H1N1. Regardless, that's a lot of interaction where we could catch a different disease.
Maybe we should prevent H1N1 by getting the vaccine. But if we do that, we're going to have to wait in a large building filled with other potentially sick people. It'll be a long wait, so we'll have even more exposure to sick people. And who foresaw the massive collection of sick people at injection sites? Not the news media. Not our doctors. Not our government. Not the people standing in lines (obviously).
We can't yet rely on the vaccine, so we'll have to resort the traditional methods of preventing disease: eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, washing our hands, sneezing into our sleeves, avoiding going out into public if we're sick...
HOLY SHIT!! That's how we prevent the regular flu! If I could find a way to package that simple advice, I'd be a billionaire.
Why didn't anyone think of this before? And why has this simple prevention step been so overlooked by the media?
If I could answer those questions, I'd be a god.