Friday, November 6, 2009

Survival of the Fittest

For those of you looking for a writing blog this week, go read Nancy Pickard's about writing being like free-falling. I can't say it any better.

As for my week, well, standing in a long line to get a seasonal flu shot--and being told they're close to running out, an hour early, and that the rest of us might not get it--this kind of stuff leads to morose thoughts about our society and how we Americans really aren't great at caring for each other.

I did get my shot, but I think I was in the last dozen or so. Many more than that in the line behind me. You might wonder why all these people wouldn't just go to their doctors for shots, but my town of 30,000 has a big percentage of low income, out of work, under- or uninsured families, so I say God bless our county health system. At least they get it that not only the rich ought to be protected from infectious diseases.

I asked about the H1N1 vaccine, because I have a whole slew of 20-something friends who've had flu symptoms the last month so we all know swine flu has arrived (reported cases in 48 states actually). The county people say they can't get the vaccine yet. I'm less worried for myself than all the kids and young people. Supposedly if you were born before 1957, you've got a good chance of having already encountered similar flus and having antibodies that will work as well on H1N1. Then again, they say the overweight and obese are at a higher risk, and doesn't that include quite a lot of Americans right now?

But here's the thing. I have a friend in Australia. About 6 months ago, she got an H1N1 shot. In fact, everyone in Australia who wanted one got one. FREE. Now, granted, Australia has a smaller population than the US, but in this country, we had a half year more lead time. You mean we couldn't at least have developed enough vaccine in that time for, say, all of our school age kids?

One of the reasons the Roman Empire declined was the plague. I wonder if, a few millenia from now, people will say the "American civilization" died out because of infectious diseases? Or because, as a country, we didn't make the health and fitness of our citizens any kind of priority? That we, essentially, committed a kind of national suicide by not seeing that Americans had the tools to survive.

And by the way, those people in the future? They'll likely be French. They have the best healthcare system in the world.

Bonne sante!

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