"I talk about the gods, I am an atheist. But I am an artist too, and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth."

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November 2009

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Public Service: Yes, get the vaccine

Okay, this has come up one my reading lists, so I figured I should give the short version, here.

Very short low-down on swine flu, aka h1n1 novel virus: It's not horribly deadly it just spreads really fast and no one has immunity to speak of, so yes, you should get the vaccine.

Less short but still short low-down: The swine flu is, by and large, no more dangerous than any seasonal flu. It hits with about the same intensity, so we're talking three days to two weeks of general urgh to acute misery. As always, there can be complications that lead to death; that's influenza for you.

The reason it is rated a pandemic is because of how fast and widely it spreads, due to the unfortunate fact that it is a new virus and no one has more than partial immunity. Older people have gotten more flus and have more chance of that partial immunity, young people have less.

The fear, therefore, is mostly that it will hit everyone in an entire area/campus/town all at once and cause severe problems in basic functioning because everyone will be sick at the same time. No groceries, because there's maybe one person well enough to work at the store, no bus routes, no mail, that kind of thing. This is, of course, of especial concern when it comes to health care workers being hit right when they're needed most. If the ambulance drivers and nurses all have 104 fevers for five days, this is a huge problem.

The particular danger signs are intense nausea and the inability to keep food or liquids down, sudden dizziness, shortness of breath, or showing signs of a secondary infection like pneumonia; ignoring those signs and not getting to a hospital if they appear is a stupid thing to do, but that won't stop some people, especially young people who are used to throwing off even bad illnesses. Hence, deaths.

In summary, you should get the vaccine because, even though you may not ever get enough seasonal symptoms to notice, you are probably still a transmitter and the critical point is to stop the spread of this one.
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