Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Swine Flu.....meh....

Conventional wisdom is that things - trends, ideas, fashions - start on the west or east coast, and then move toward the center of the nation. If that’s true, we’re apparently not too wound up about the Swine Flu - or, H1N1, as the politicians here want us to call it.

Californians as a rule are far more laid-back than their east-coast opposites, and the San Francisco Chronicle reports that half the people in the Golden State are either “not very concerned” or “not concerned at all” about the virus.

Typical of the responses to the newspaper’s poll was that of a San Jose woman, who said “I think it’s just a big old massive media hype and it’s kind of ridiculous”.

What? Media hype? From the folks who brought you SARS and Alar in apples?

I’ve said many times before that the media’s default position is “excess”. What story made the “A block” in every local TV newscast Monday, right up there with the Packers-Vikings game? The Swine Flu death in Rock County. First death this fall. We had 8 Swine Flu deaths this spring.

I’m not saying the local news media shouldn’t have reported the Swine Flu death; it’s legitimate news. Just like the flu outbreak that hit the UW campus when the kids all came back after summer break. Many news outlets also carried stories about how the first doses of vaccine, in the nasal spray form, have arrived here and are being administered to health-care workers.

And I have no problem with all the news stories about school closings (which the TV folks have all decided to call “closures” for some odd reason) in Wisconsin Dells. Legitimate news, not even sensationalized, from what I picked up last night.

If people aren’t concerned about Swine Flu, they’re not likely to get the vaccine. But nearly three-quarters of the people in the California newspaper poll said they’d be somewhat or very likely to get the vaccine if doctors or public health officials recommend it. That’s encouraging. I guess it means they trust their public health officials.

My wife works for the largest health care outfit in the county (the one with two initials in its name, and nearly seven thousand employees). Without violating any confidences, I can assure you her employer…and the thousands and thousands of professionals working at the other big health care outfits in Dane County…are working very hard to make sure they’re prepared for any foreseeable eventuality concerning Swine Flu.

The media isn’t fond of covering meetings, conferences, discussions, or nuts and bolts preparation for a possible pandemic. Not very exciting stuff, I’ll grant you.

But it’s good to know that those people we will rely on the most if this Swine Flu thing hits us hard later this fall and winter, are diligently getting ready for what MIGHT be.

If lots of people are laid low by the Swine Flu, the media will be there to report it. And they’ll do their usual good job of telling us how and where we can get vaccinated. Even if they don’t seem to be too interested right now in how our health care professionals are preparing for it.

1 comment:

  1. Agree.
    And love the "closure" comment.

    George Hesselberg