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Update on Flu Coverage September 22, 2009

Posted by Nina Rosenstand in Current Events, Nina Rosenstand's Posts.
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There is a very good article today from HealthDay News making more or less the same point that I made below in my posts about media coverage of the H1N1 flu, reassuringly putting things in perspective, and warning about the risks of “societal panic”:

Not only does societal panic not help during a public health situation, such as the current H1N1 flu pandemic, it can actually backfire, creating its own set of problems, the experts said.

“We have limited resources in the U.S. — if this [swine flu] captures our negative imagination, it’s going to hurt our health-care system,” said Dr. Marc Siegel, associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine in New York City. “Our emergency rooms will be flooded with worried people, doctors’ phones will be hanging off the hook, everyone will be afraid of every sniffle and wanting to get tested for the flu.”

 In addition, the article has a piece of advice I hadn’t even thought of:

Remember that fear is unhealthy. “All that anxiety does is weaken your immune system, which puts you at greater risk for catching this virus or any other virus,” Klapow said. “Getting a grip is critical — not just so you feel better emotionally but it will increase the chance that you ward this off.”

Of course that’s double-edged: “Don’t panic because panic can make you sick!” That’ll really make people panic…but the whole point is to “get a grip,” like the article suggests, and see things in the proper perspective.  Here we could add, with Aristotle, that sometimes fear—or should I say hightened mental and emotional alertness—is appropriate: In cases where we need our amygdala to kick in, because we’re facing an actual life-threatening situation, we need that extra adrenaline. But judging when, and if, such a high-alert response is needed is a matter of rational evaluation, in addition to our emotional reaction.



1. Richard V. Gilbert - September 28, 2009

“Don’t panic because panic can make you sick!” That’ll really make people panic…but the whole point is to “get a grip,” like the article suggests, and see things in the proper perspective.

Anxiety can definitely take a toll on the human body. To lesson anxiety perhaps the individual should analyze the situation his or her self. For example, how many people have actually HAD the “swine flu”? How many people KNOW someone who has had the “swine flu”? My entire family has had it and all they had to do was get a shot and within 24 hours they were fine.

I think the swine flu kills only because we ignore it and not because it is this horrible, out to kill everybody, illness.

2. Olivia De Ramos Phil 102B - December 8, 2009

I sometimes have really bad anxiety and because I have an 11 month old son, it made me nervous whenever I hear people talk about the Swine Flu, or the Flu in general. Last week, I had 3 people in my house hold sick with the flu, so I immediately booked an appointment for my son, my husband and myself to get vaccinated. I got my flu shot first, from a clinic next to where I work, and I got terribly sick. It was just like getting the flu and I felt awful. I had to take off from work and school for a few days. Now, my husband doesn’t want to get the shot, and we’ve decided to not let our son get it either because we didn’t want him to feel the same way I did. I guess it’s good to take precautions and get vaccinated, but maybe it’s just a bunch of hype, a way for clinics and hospitals to make more money in this falling economy. Getting the flu shot certainly did not make me feel good, and I’m sure there are others out there that experienced it that same way. Needless to say, I will not be getting it again.

3. Randy - December 8, 2009

I personally think that this whole swine flu scare was blown a little out of proportion. No doubt that if you should become sick there is a chance that you could become really ill or even die but I’ve heard that the number of people who die from the regular flu are alot higher than those that have died of the swine flu. So why all the mass hysteria? I agree with the above comment that maybe this might have been some ploy to drum up business for the pharmaceutical companies or some other self serving reason. People are lining up for flu shots like 13 year old girls line up for Jonas brother tickets. It reminds me of the long lines at stores right before Y2K when people were stocking up on batteries and canned goods, and we know how that turned out. People need to relax, they’ll worry themselves to death.

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