Fight the flu, don't fear it

There seems to be a bit of a bug going around, but don’t we say the same thing every year around this time?

Island Health is putting out an influenza advisory this week as H1N1 is making another go-round, five years after the first swine flu scare.

Apparently younger, stronger people seem to be more susceptible to this winter’s strain, with almost 50 people on Vancouver Island checking into hospital with flu symptoms so far, a quarter of those at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. Sadly, the flu claimed a victim in the city already this month, someone with a pre-existing medical condition.

It’s probably a small-sample-size coincidence that members of a different age bracket are falling ill, and it may also be that at-risk populations were diligent about getting their flu shots.

Whatever the case, let’s not make ourselves sick with worry. Even though some of us didn’t get our flu vaccination, we’re probably going to be OK. We know the drill by now – sneeze and cough into the crook of our elbow, wash our hands, call in sick if we must. If we forget our little bottle of hand sanitizer in our car, well, the woman next to us has some in her purse that she’ll share.

Influenza can be deadly but it’s not out to get us. The people who have the most to worry about are the ones who have health problems and the ones who are probably already well aware of what precautions to take. For those who need them, flu shots are still available and pretty painless.

There are a lot of things that might make us sick – unhealthy diets and lifestyles, lack of sleep, stress, and yes, germs. But if we start walking around everywhere in SARS masks, then we’ll hide our smiles. And that’s no way to go about feeling better.

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