by Shana Wilson
(This week's entry is by guest blogger Shana Wilson, who happens to share my opinion regarding the H1N1 pandemic and how the media may be responsible for bringing undue alarm to parents.)
The spread of the influenza virus, H1N1, also commonly known as the swine flu, has struck panic in many parents. Add into the equation that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get vaccinated, the panic level rises significantly. It's a simple case study of supply and demand. Alarmed parents demand vaccinations; therefore, there are vaccination shortages. It's a vicious cycle.
What if there were no reason to be alarmed? Take into account that the H1N1 virus is the latest in a series of winter illnesses that have recently spooked parents, such as SARS, the Bird Flu, and the West Nile Virus. This isn't to say that these illnesses aren't to be taken seriously, but only to put H1N1 in perspective. There will always be new diseases; panicking isn't the way to handle them.
Many experts argue that vaccinations aren't the way to handle childhood illnesses either. This would certainly help the H1N1 vaccination shortage for those parents who still want their child vaccinated. Author and pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon suggests these tips in keeping your child healthy during the winter months: make sure your child is getting a good night's sleep, make sure they wash their hands often, avoid too much dairy, refined sugar, and fried foods (which lower your child's immune system), support your child's immune system with herbs, fruits, and vegetables, and finally, don't panic if your child does get sick! Fevers are the best way for the body's immune system to become stronger.
Indiana has reported 317 cases of H1N1, resulting in 19 deaths. What's important to keep in mind is that these statistics are misleading. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 50 percent of H1N1 cases that become serious result from a pre-existing condition. This study included 500 children. According to the CDC, 75-80 percent of the children who died of H1N1 had underlying conditions.
This winter poses no greater threat than most others. Protect your family as best as possible and remember not to panic. Everything seems scarier without perspective.