Children in the United States are dying from the flu even as the new coronavirus continues to spread.
That should give us more than a little pause. As some Americans continue to scoff at best health practices, including appropriate vaccines for the flu, how ready are we to handle a viral pandemic?
Some 10,000 Americans have died of the flu this year; 180,000 have been hospitalized.
“Please, it is not too late to get a flu shot, and there are measures we can all take that can help keep us healthy this season,” Connecticut Department of Public Heath Commissioner Renée D. Coleman-Mitchell said in announcing the flu death of a young child in her state.
Plenty of people are still basking in misinformation, with sometimes deadly results. The mother of a 4-year-old Colorado boy consulted an anti-vaccine Facebook group when flu hit her house, according to media reports. She wrote that she had declined to fill a Tamiflu prescription written by a doctor, NBC News reported, but was treating her children with peppermint oil and lavender. Members advised her to use breast milk, thyme and elderberry. Her son died. Facebook said it is trying to reduce the spread of vaccine misinformation on its site.
Celebrity-studded anti-vax debates run the risk of becoming a parlor game or something of a joke. Instead, the urgent need to corral the coronavirus is a sobering reminder that public health is serious business. People who defy widely accepted precautions aren’t just quirky oddballs. By ignoring medical advice and common sense, they endanger themselves, their children, the medically vulnerable and potentially everyone around them.
The results of not taking the flu seriously can be deadly.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE