According to CNN, MSNBC, Fox and all of the 24 – 7 news outlet the end of the world is here. Or at least that is the message I got with their wall to wall coverage of 2 cases of Ebola contracted in the United States. The stations have there talking heads posted live outside the Dallas hospital where the nurse contracted the disease. They camp out around the CDC awaiting the latest and greatest news they can spin and terrify Americans with. “Ebola is here!” “It’s the end of times!”
As horrible as Ebola is, especially in select African countries, its death toll pales in the face of a real killer. The Flu. Yes the common flu. From December 2013 through October 10, 2014 4,922 people have died due to Ebola. These figures are probably understated and are horrible. The average death toll from the seasonal flu (not including pandemics) ranges from 3,000 to 49,000 per year. During the 2009 H1N1 outbreak it is estimated that 400,000 died. In the pandemic of 1918 estimates range from million to 50 million deaths due to the flu. I in no way want to discount the Ebola Virus and the horrible suffering it has caused. I just want to put it in perspective and focus on a much bigger killer.
The flu is an upper respiratory ailment. Deaths are usually related to complications from other health factors. This puts seniors and children at a higher risk but it can strike anyone.
We are better prepared now than in 1918. Antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu are effective in lessening symptoms and avoiding death if administered in the first 48 hours of symptom onset. When hit by a pandemic the problem will be availability and access to these drugs. During a pandemic there will not be enough supply of antiviral drugs to treat everyone. Access to the drugs will be limited as the load on the health care system will be overwhelmed. Getting in to see a physician or into a hospital will be difficult. Hospitals will over-flow with the critical patients at the same time they will have diminished staff available due to the sickness. Businesses and government services will strain to stay open providing goods and services due to overwhelming absenteeism. Some businesses will not survive the pandemic. Without workers to produce they will be without revenue and shut their doors permanently. The strain on the world-wide economy will be tremendous. Society in general will begin to shut down.
The medical community says that it is not if but when another major flu pandemic hits. Business and government have tried to prepare for just such a scenario. At Ebsco we have a pandemic policy already drafted and ready to implement. I have to admit it was unsettling drafting our policy and playing what if with such a dark scenario. The health care field, government agencies and many other businesses have done the same and will be prepared as they can to face just such a tragedy. Even with that level of preparation, it will be a challenge to be faced by everyone.
Although flu shots can’t contain every strain of flu and the flu virus does adapt, the vaccinations will at least lessen the symptoms if not prevent the flu. Remember, the flu itself does not kill. It is complications of other health issues. Lessening the severity of the flu will save lives. A simple, inexpensive flu shot might be the difference in life or death. At Ebsco we offer flu shots to all of our employees for free. Ebsco picks up the tab. We invited our local Walgreens Pharmacist to Ebsco to administer flu shots to every employee that wanted one. We have done this for several years. It’s the right thing to do for our team members and it’s the right thing to do for Ebsco. If they stay healthy we are able to continue serving our customers.
If everyone would get an annual flu shot we could avoid the pandemic that is coming and the thousands that will die each year from flu complications. Getting a flu shot is now as easy as a quick walk in and walk out at you local pharmacy. Time is no longer an excuse.
If you have questions about flu shots, click on this link FLU SHOT INFO. or ask your pharmacist or physician. It’s at least worth your time to be informed and make an intelligent decision. It might be your life we’re talking about.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to stock up on tissues. I still need to prepare for the common cold. But that’s another story