Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My H1N1 Post

I figure if I'm going to have to post something every day, I should get some of the current-event type posts and Big Issue posts out of the way. Things that I don't necessarily think people are dying for my opinion on, but somehow it seems a bit cowardly to not volunteer that opinion.

I'm generally all for joining in on bashing the government. My friend Pam and I, on our Wednesday walks, have determined that Ottawa badly needs a Stupidity Czar. So when some official decides he needs to dispatch a crew of workers with water hoses to wash away a street-wide chalk drawing -- BUZZZZZ! Stupidity Czar says no, just wait for it to rain. When the city declares someone dead and refuses to acknowledge their living breathing body as proof to the contrary -- WHACK! Stupidity Czar gets to belt them with a ruler. Like that.
photo credit
creative commons license

There have been problems with the H1N1 vaccine plans -- it's not generally good practice to urge as many people as possible to get vaccinated and then say oops! ran out of vaccine. Oh well, you'll probably be okay. However, I think the general public has to accept its fair share of douchebagdom in this case as well. Every year there are extensive advertising campaigns for the seasonal flu shot. I'm not naive enough to think that the government does this because it loves us all and wants us to be safe; the major concern is that the engines of capitalism keep grinding along without the workers mucusing it up. Still, the majority of people don't get the seasonal flu shot. They think they don't need it, they don't like putting 'foreign' things in their bodies, they think it makes them sick, etc. etc. Fine. Most of those people were just as determined that they weren't going to get the H1N1 shot. Then a couple of kids died. Tragic, horrible, a nightmare for their families, but not terribly statistically relevant. Still, suddenly many more people wanted the flu shot. This wasn't exactly predictable.

There's a lot of damned-if-they-do, damned-if-they-do in this situation for the government. If they had spent billions of dollars on H1N1 vaccine and then it wasn't needed? They'd get bashed. Now there isn't enough -- they get bashed. Many people have been vocal about their opinion that H1N1 has been overly hyped as a scare tactic so the vaccine companies can make more money. And if there was a pandemic and there were no preparations whatsoever? What would those people say then?

My point is not that the government is a fragile flower that needs my protection or defense. My point if that we all need to take some responsibility too. Most of us live lives of great comfort and safety. We're not used to the days when an illness could sweep a town and leave its population decimated. We're careless with our own health and that of others. Companies don't want productivity threatened for any reason, and workers don't want to lose status in the eyes of their superiors. People think it's their right to get on a plane and fly off to wherever they want no matter what kind of germs they're spewing. Parents who didn't have to live through the reality of measles or polio smugly refuse to vaccinate their kids, and look down on those of us who do vaccinate ours. Now healthy children have died and suddenly some people are feeling vulnerable, and they think the government should be able to address that immediately. Well, it doesn't work that way.

It's hard to be balanced and logical and fair. It's hard to get out of the pattern of either ignoring the news about phenomena like this or obsessing over it. No matter how this all plays out, chances are when it's over, little will have changed. And I think that's sort of too bad.

2 comments:

Amber said...

A Stupidity Czar would be AWESOME.

There really is no easy answer on how the government should handle H1N1. Here in BC my kids have been eligible for vaccination for exactly 48 hours, and I am not eligible until next week. So for now I am hiding my head in the sand, and hoping that the crowds die down a little in a week or two so we can all get vaccinated. I am not 100% sure I should be terrified of H1N1, but I definitely know I'm terrified of braving a 3 hour line-up with two preschool-aged children. And I'm even more terrified of braving TWO of them.

theycallmejane said...

Thank you for your thoughtful comment and for bravely trying to be "fair and balanced." It's difficult for anyone to make predictions about something we still know so little about. All anyone can do is try to make an informed decision with the information that is out there.