By Kellene Bishop
This week my inbox has exploded with Google alerts on the keywords for “flu” and “influenza.” Over and over again I see dramatic headlines such as “Flu emergency declared”; “NY Reports 500% Increase in Flu Cases”; “US Grapples With Epidemic Level Flu Season”; my favorite one was this little ditty—“U.S. Scrambles for Flu Shots as Death Toll Continues to Rise.” The irony of that last one is that it didn’t even present a case for a shortage of vaccines. The article mentioned ONE state, Colorado, that had stopped giving flu shots for a week, but made no effort to connect that to any shortage of vaccines and then it proceeded to shed light on the “death toll continues to rise” angle by featuring New York, the one oddball in this season’s flu time which is experiencing 5 times the increase in the number of flu patients.
Before we get all up in arms about all of this hype about the flu, influenza, or even the norovirus, let’s look at some logic for a moment here.
First of all, the term “flu” is referring to influenza which is a viral infection of the respiratory system and is usually accompanied by congestion, coughing and a fever. Bronchitis, whooping cough, a simple “cold” or sinus infections can all be lumped into the numbers of reported flu sufferers because of how the medical reporting is set up in the U.S. The flu frequently sets in on individuals who are suffering from other underlying ailments as their immune system decreases AND they are typically being exposed to more cases of the virus as they sit in doctor’s offices, hospitals, senior care centers and other health care centers. Heck, when I had my last surgery, I ended up leaving the hospital with respiratory virus in my lungs that I had no sign of before going in. Even the CDC says that providing an scientifically accurate conclusion on the number of flu cases which were known to result in death each year in the U.S. is difficult and thus can only be given a mathematical “range”. (in other words—a guess!) Speaking of guesses, guess what that “mathematical range” is? Somewhere between 5,000 to 52,000! Yup, that’s quite a range, eh, especially given that we’re talking about human beings and not the rat population in NYC. Furthermore, as a result of a couple of bad years OR what could be reflective of BETTER years in terms of the reporting by the medical industry—we don’t know which—we now have a bunch of dingbats out there on the internet throwing around an “average” figure of 36,000 deaths from the flu each year in the U.S. And of course this is the number that the producers use when doing their “research” for the news that they provide the talking heads of the mainstream media. *sigh* Can you see where there might be some misinformation being fed to the public?
Next, because of the flu settling into the lungs when other illnesses are present, it’s possible that that range of numbers is reflective of some very unscientific reporting that’s no more conclusive than flipping a coin. Someone may die because adding the flu to their worn out immune system was the last straw and thus the cause of death is reported as influenza instead of the heart disease.
We keep hearing about NY having a “flu emergency” and a drastic rise in flu patients and yet from what I can tell, no one has applied any semblance of logic or asked the right questions on this matter. Of course we should expect the numbers of deaths from the flu and reports of the flu to be rising rapidly in NY—it’s a well-populated state and this is just the beginning of the flu season, so of course it’s possible that the numbers of flu cases being reported are five times higher than they were during the last flu season! Have we taken into account the increasing population in the U.S. when we say that “numbers are rising?”
It’s also conceivable that there would be a shortage of vaccine supplies—not because there’s a cause to panic but because
A) the start of the flu season, which was early, caught the industry unawares so MAYBE they weren’t ready with sufficient supplies–maybe;
B) the media has more people freaked out about the flu and so more are opting for the vaccine;
C) the senior citizen demographic of 65 and older grew by more than 5.3 million people according to the last census. The older people get, the more susceptible their systems may be to the flu; or
D)—yes, the possibility exists that there actually is some deep, dark, flu virus that’s much more vicious this season than in seasons past;
E) Even though the news may seem irrelevant to the U.S., there have been more than 3 million vaccine doses recalled in Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. It’s a small world when pharmaceutical manufacturers are scrambling to make up for that kind of volume in nations where the government pays for the vaccines for everyone, don’t ya think? Ahem… One more reason to not freak out about this is–
F) It’s quite possible that there isn’t one iota of a shortage of vaccines, rather it’s just hype. I mean think about it for just a moment. The vaccine manufacturers in the world have a monopoly on providing vaccines to the everyone PLUS they have what amounts to as a Pre-Presidential Pardon and thus are immune from any lawsuits for any wrongdoing, plus it’s a mega-multi-billion dollar business! Last year the government gave 6 companies contracts worth $5.7 billion and that was just for vaccines for children! So basically, they are printing money with every vaccine they put out. Do you really think they wouldn’t be hyper focused on printing enough money under these favorable circumstances? Nah, I don’t either.
Now, let’s leave the traditional definition of the flu and go to other one. When a person is dealing with a high fever, chills, diarrhea, and vomiting, this is commonly referred to as “a flu bug” or “the flu” even though what this most likely is is the norovirus that’s going around globally. As a result, this confusion in the vernacular can also lead to a very skewed picture of our nation’s “flu statistics.”
Without me even broaching the subject of whether or not vaccines are the answer to all of this hoopla, I think it’s easy to see that there’s a whole lot of hype and misinformation going around with these story lines. Frankly, unless we have more than 40,000 deaths directly related from the flu, I’m not going to give much credence to all of the hyped headlines and I sure hope you can avoid it too.
Even if there ARE pandemic levels of those suffering from the flu, I still don’t think we have to have a lot of stress about handling it because there are numerous very effective alternative health and wellness choices. The medications that I still have to take, as well as the conditions which they ostensibly help to mitigate, naturally cause my immune system to be sorely compromised. As such, it’s been easy for me in year’s past to catch anything and everything that goes around—and usually I get it coming and going. However, this year I stuck to a very strict alternative care regimen of essential oils and dense nutrient consumption and stuck to it regardless of how “good” I felt. This is the first year out of the past decade in which I haven’t gotten sick with any viral based illness. Ironically, in years past when I’ve gotten sick I usually end up passing it on my hubby, but this year he had to deal with both the traditional flu early into the season and just recently the norovirus and yet I STILL did not get sick—not even a sniffle. My point in sharing this is to illustrate that all of the hype of the flu accompanied by the ensuing plug for people to pay to be human guinea pigs for the pharmaceutical industry, doesn’t provide us with the ONLY choice that we have to address these concerns. In fact, even though the hubster did get knocked on his keester with the norovirus, I was still able to take care of him with the alternative methods I had on hand and shortened his experience down to less than 36 hours.
Ultimately I hope that we all can realize that we have choices in how we will respond to this incessant hype and melodramatic headlines and that we are certainly capable of applying a little bit of logic to all of this which can go a long ways in helping us to determine what’s factual and what may be more for the benefit of behavior manipulation and the expansion of some companies’ profit margins.