According to a report on ABC News, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology have stated that “Up to half of the population of the U.S. could come down with the Swine Flu and 90,000 could die this season.” These figures are staggering. It’s enough to make one think of heading for the hills away from civilization, and if you’re anything like me, taking your horses with you. There are numerous strains of flu viruses circulating at any given time, year round; viruses that affect humans and animals alike. And while a faraway hill sounds tempting, even if I could saddle up and go, from what I understand it would have to be the perfect hill. Not too cold, or not too dry. It would have to be a Goldilocks just right.
“Flu incidence peaks in the winter season in temperate parts of the world, generally described as areas outside the tropics. Cold and dry conditions help the virus survive outside the body, meaning that droplet particles take longer to evaporate and remain airborne for more extended periods in winter. Influenza outbreaks do occur in the tropics, though less frequently than in areas with less heat and humidity, and without the seasonality seen in areas with wintry weather,” according to a study by Asia One.
I would have thought it to be the opposite; the colder the better. But apparently dry cold air is not necessarily a good thing when it comes to viral contagions. The little germies figuratively spread their cold little wings and fly high and low. On the other hand, it’s speculated that moist warm climates may actually slow them down.
I vaccinate our horses for influenza. But at the same time, hesitate getting a flu vaccination myself. I’m not sure that kind of logic makes good sense. I initially started vaccinating our horses because it was required at the stables where we boarded. It was a show barn and horses came and went on a regular basis. The decision was not mine. It was part of the cohabitating process. The influenza vaccination I give our horses is not for Swine Flu.
When it comes time to vaccinate our horses, I always ask our trusted veterinarian, “What do you give your horses?” And follow suit. So, why oh why, is it such a difficult decision when it comes to getting a flu vaccination for me personally? I don’t want the flu. Who does? I can’t imagine anyone saying, me, me, I do!
For most of my life, when someone said they had the flu, it meant they were sick. Not that they were dying. And yet, Swine flu has the potential to kill. Should we feel morally obligated to have a Swine Flu vaccine, particularly, when we are out and about, coming and going, much like the horses in a public barn. If I lived on that proverbial hill away from civilization, there would be no question. I would assume I wouldn’t need it. No shot for me, thank you. But! I am out and about in the populated world everyday. I hug my elderly neighbor. I shake hands with the salesman at my door. I push a grocery cart. Who am I to take a stand and refuse?
Maybe my thinking and anyone else struggling with the decision as to whether or not to get the Swine Flu vaccination, goes back to that rugged individualism our parents and grandparents were so proud of. Maybe we think of the Swine Flu vaccine as a weakness on our part. Maybe we’re thinking; I’m tough, I can ward off the flu. I can handle it. But then again, maybe not…maybe we can’t handle it. Maybe we’re afraid the vaccine itself will make us sick.