Fear and Consumption

Science and Tech

It is amazing what can be accomplished by fear. That is precisely what many people across the planet are experiencing when it comes to the looming pandemic that is h1n1. I think parents have been hardest hit. With daily media coverage spouting the latest scary headlines, it makes it tough to decide whether or not to be inoculated. It's a menacing and trying time for us all.

We have been bombarded with media reports since late spring. Forecasters tell us that this flu, will be the mother of all flus, comparing it to the Spanish flu of 1918, where millions died. They told us it came from pigs, now they’re telling us we gave it to the pigs. They told us getting a regular flu shot would hamper the new vaccine, and then they told us it wouldn’t. Warnings in the media have changed day to day, but one thing remains the same. A large pandemic is due to arrive at any minute.We are in the middle of what scientists and health care providers are calling a first and second wave. It would seem this global outbreak is already here.

It's easy to remain skeptical about news regarding the h1n1 virus. With so much conflicting information going around, it's difficult to make an educated decision about the potential threat. To believe local and international health officials, means we are placing trust in our doctors and governments. The decision on whether or not to receive the vaccine largely involves that sacred trust. How can we place our lives in the hands of doctors and nurses, when recent research revealed nearly half of health care workers plan to refuse the shot?

The first of the flu vaccines are being shipped out this week and flu clinics will be rolling out shots in the coming weeks. Some people believe this flu season won’t be any different from most flu seasons and the h1n1 is nothing more than hype. A giant cash grab for the three big companies responsible for creating and manufacturing the vaccine. There is much talk of the safety and effectiveness of this vaccine and whether it will offer any real protection. The flu's origins, the vaccine, and much of the issues surrounding the pandemic are questionable at best.

When a young girl recently died in England after receiving the cervical cancer vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline's stock took a major dive. It begs the questions; Do these corporate giants require the faith of the consumer in order to make a profit? Does the buying and selling of stocks in these companies motivate doctors, scientists, and vaccine manufacturers to get the vaccine right? Or, is the profit margin so huge, and the market place so monopolized, it doesn’t matter? It's downright scary to think about life and death in these terms.

With news media covering the worst of h1n1 cases, it's no wonder people are afraid. Pregnant women losing their babies while clinging to life in ICU's, daily warnings that this flu will hit otherwise healthy people causing serious illness and death, and extra body bags showing up at Canadian native reserves are all prime examples. It's a lot to take in and a lot to think about it. Tami flu is being stockpiled as we all sit and wait in fear, hoping that the worst won’t come to pass.

Swine flu fears have helped the bottom line of at least three American face mask companies. The internet is being flooded with scams, selling everything from fake Tami flu to air sterilizers, and immune booster pills. The flu is caused by a virus, so killing bacteria is of uncertain benefit. It seems much of what is going on around the world is supposed to be keeping us safe and protected, yet still, all is of uncertain benefit. Better to be safe than sorry? 

The fear of serious illness and death from a common cold is deeply troubling for most. To believe that the vaccine is safe, we have to decide whether the news and government are telling us the whole truth. Should a person take their chances with a fast tracked vaccine that may contain harmful chemicals and adjuvants which have been proven to cause neurological problems? Or is it safer to play the odds and catch the flu? There's a lot of noise and panic going on around us.

What speaks volumes? The fact that the three big companies were given blanket immunity from any liability or negative fall out concerning side effects of these vaccines. There are more questions than answers, leaving the world to grapple with a tough decision. Out of sheer panic and guilt, many will subject themselves and their children to the new vaccine, because the fear of not doing so is so much more frightening. Medical experts must weigh the risks and benefits and ultimately act in the public's best interests.They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. My question is, how much?


Consumerism, Health Care