My kids are worried about contracting Swine Flu. And that irritates me to no end. Because if there’s one thing I don’t need right now, what with my company tanking and bills mounting and stress levels higher than high, it’s having my kids all panicky about dying from the flu.
My 4-year-old seems to think that Swine Flu involves morphing into an actual pig, which is amusing, but my older kids seem to be inching toward paranoia, and that is not cool. We’ve done everything we can to reassure them, but with two parents who work in the media, it’s impossible to ignore the hype.
No, the flu shot won’t help — if you got it last fall, it might lessen the severity of an infection, but it wasn’t formulated to protect against swine flu. If you didn’t get it last fall — I didn’t – it’s too late to get it now. Don’t bother trying to stock up on antibiotics — they’re useless when it comes to a viral infection — and you can’t get Tamiflu or other antivirals without a prescription, so stockpiling those won’t help, either.
There are plenty of tips on how to avoid contracting the disease, but here’s the thing: All those tips are exactly the same precautions you should be taking to avoid run-of-the-mill flu anyway. Wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough, stay home when sick (really, even if you feel like you can’t), etc., etc. And if your kid usually gets allergies, those sniffles and snuffles are probably still allergies.
Why are we all up in arms about Swine Flu when upwards of 30,000 die from influenza-related illnesses as it is? Were the panic levels this bad in 2003 with SARS? How about with the Avian Flu outbreak? And as for the “Don’t eat pork products!” and “Close the borders!” ridiculousness I’ve heard… please. You don’t get the flu from bacon, and immigrants aren’t bringing the virus to places like New York and Maine, tourists who are coming back from vacation are.
Enough. Frankly, I don’t know what I’ll do if my town closes schools for a week to ward off a potential outbreak — I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. But all of the panicking isn’t doing anyone any good. Just stay calm, people. And wash your hands.