More H1N1 (in the wild)
A good excerpt from this article, By Gary Kreps, Ph.D, and Rebecca Goldin, Ph.D, November 17, 2009:
“Unlike the seasonal flu, H1N1 frequently attacks children. The CDC calculates that 179 flu-related pediatric deaths have occurred in the U.S since last April. Of these, one was due to the seasonal flu and 156 were due to H1N1. (The other 22 were due to a Type A influenza with an unidentified sub-type.) Compare those figures to the 2006-2007 flu season, when only 68 total pediatric deaths were linked to the seasonal flu. Thus, H1N1 has killed almost twice as many kids in the first month of this year’s flu season as the seasonal flu killed in an entire year during 2006-2007. The stakes are high for pregnant women as well, who constitute about one percent of the population but six percent of the deaths attributed to H1N1.
The media could help parents sort this out by framing this story in terms of comparative risk. Some parents may be willing throw the dice, reasoning that the absolute risk to their children is low. Instead they should compare the risk with that of other viruses for which vaccinations are now standard. Chicken pox, which used to take kids out of school for one or two weeks, was widespread until a vaccine became available in 1995. Before the vaccine, 100 to 150 people died each year from the disease, and more than 10,000 were hospitalized. This cost to society was considered high enough that 46 states now require children to get vaccinated in order to attend school.
As this comparison makes clear, the decision to vaccinate against H1N1 should be a slam dunk. The danger may not be apocalyptic, but it is very real. Unless America’s parents get this message, it is their children who will suffer most from confusion and misinformation. In fact, once you get past the conspiracy theories and myths, the development of the H1N1 vaccine is a genuine success story of government and industry working together to serve the public interest. But it’s being undermined by a failure to get the real story out to the very people whose lives may depend upon it.”