Enough about the Swine Flu, already

Categories: Parenting, The Juggle


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.

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8 comments so far...

  • Thank you!!!!! i, too, am tired of hearing about the swine flu. I work in healthcare - in Pennsylvania - and I wish the sensationalism would just stop already.

    All of the precautions are EXACTLY the same; what a shame it takes media hype to get people to wash their hands.

    mama k  |  May 1st, 2009 at 8:03 am

  • I think is good that kids be conscientious (not panicking) about the N1H1 A virus.
    I am in Houston, TX where we had the first confirmed death. And there is one possible case in the elementary and another one in the middle school in the area where my children go to high school. Both schools with the posible cases are closed now.
    I have to constantly remind my 15,16, & 18 year old to be extra careful and take all the necessary precautions.

    fel  |  May 1st, 2009 at 11:02 am

  • I agree. People die from the “normal” flu every year, but you never see people acting like there is a severe thread on their lives.

    Anyway, I’m just tired of hearing about this swine flu. It’s just amazing to me how crazy people can get when they are not well informed.

    Gladys  |  May 1st, 2009 at 8:51 pm

  • The schools close to keep the kids from infecting each other. So the kids all hang out together and play. Which allows the germs to spread even further.

    Frankly I am tired of the the hype as well. More people have died from regular seasonal influenza than they have from swine flu. Healthy people are over whelming emergency rooms because of this panic.

    I do have one hope for all of this hype. We might change the way employers look at sick days. I frequently see many clerks and cashiers coming to work sick because they don’t get paid sick days. They could stay home, but it would be without pay. If they stay out to long, or to often, they loose the job.

    Jan D - Fibrowitch  |  May 2nd, 2009 at 10:53 am

  • Stay calm is absolutely right. H1N1 does have the risk of becoming pandemic, but panic will not keep people healthy. I’m a teacher & a public health volunteer, so I have more information than most. Closing schools is a preventive measure when a case is confirmed; it doesn’t indicate panic. In 1918, communities who used quarantine suffered fewer deaths than those who didn’t.

    Daisy  |  May 2nd, 2009 at 6:40 pm

  • Girl, I am right there with you. We live in San Antonio….in the heat of the “epidemic”….I think there are 17 cases here. What the [email protected]#&!!! We have schools near us that have closed for 10 days…seriously…did Columbine even close for 10 days when kids were KILLED there???

    It’s the freakin’ flu!! We are Americans…we deal with the flu…we get sick, we have fevers, and we stay in bed. We don’t cancel school, sporting events, and wine festivals!

    Karla E  |  May 2nd, 2009 at 11:16 pm

  • I noticed at the grocery store yesterday that there is no hand sanitizing gel left on the shelves. The cashier told me that people have been buying cases of it at a time! What are they going to do? Bathe in it before they leave the house and after they return home each day?

    Sharon  |  May 3rd, 2009 at 6:44 am

  • Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Thank you.

    Phe  |  May 12th, 2009 at 7:18 am