When Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey sang the Wayne’s World theme song, “Party time….excellent,” they probably didn’t have swine flu parties in mind. Who could even imagine such a thing? But sure enough, that’s the newest craze sweeping the world, with Mom’s across the globe discussing the benefits of bringing their kids to just such a shindig. And why? Because they hope that exposing their children to the bug will build immunity against future exposures, when more virulent strains might possibly appear.
The idea seems to have been hatched (all puns intended) from the “chickenpox party” model, in which parents bring an infected kid into contact with their healthy kids. The main advocates of this approach tend to be folks who don’t believe in vaccination, and so hope to build immunity a more natural way — by getting the disease. They want to be sure that the kids contract the illness when young, because the older the age of onset, the greater the likelihood of complications.
According to Justine Roberts, who runs the parenting website Mumsnet, “What’s being discussed is the principle of whether it might be a good idea, based on the notion that it’s better to catch swine flu now than to get it in the winter when Tamiflu’s running out, there’s a virulent strain around and we’re all under the weather. A lot of people see the rationale behind that.”
With maternal concern running in that direction, it’s easy to see why Freud concluded that all mental illness can be blamed on Mum — not to mention the importance of trains going into tunnels. The authorities, however, are in agreement that attending parties in hopes of getting sick with H1N1 may not be quite the most brilliant of ideas.
“This is a new, emerging infection, and we’re learning more about it each day,” said Richard Besser, acting head of the Centers for Disease Control. “But how an individual person will be impacted by the infection is not something that we know. It’s a big mistake putting individuals and children at risk, and the CDC does not recommend that people follow that course.”
Dr. Anne Moscana, a flu expert at Cornell University, was more emphatic. “I think it’s totally nuts,” she said. “I can’t believe people are really thinking of doing it. I understand the thinking, but I just fear we don’t know enough about how this virus would react in every individual. This is like the Middle Ages, when people deliberately infected themselves with smallpox [yes, they really did that, Virginia]. It’s vigilante vaccination — you know, taking immunity into your own hands.”
Meanwhile, the online debate over the party plan centers over details. Should you wait until season’s end to expose yourself, or try to get sick right away? After getting infected, should you take Tamiflu immediately, or give the bug a chance to settle in? By the way, there’s a perverse brilliance here. Expose yourself “naturally” so that you can then take a pharmaceutical drug that is only marginally effective and comes with some troubling side effects!!!???
So who is right — the party parents, or the experts? Certainly trying to get sick with something potentially deadly doesn’t appear to be logical, but consider the options that the average citizen sees. With the news blaring out constant warnings about the coming pandemic, and then about the looming more-deadly-than-deadly second wave, people are running scared. They’re trying to take healthcare into their own hands because they have no confidence in the medical establishment’s ability to protect them. After all, the news makes clear that the only defenses available to combat swine flu are two antiviral drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, which may or may not work given the fact that flus have long histories of mutating around pharmaceuticals. As I’ve written recently, Tamiflu and Relenza basically are the same drug and already, H1N1 has started showing resistance to them.
While there are no guarantees and no surefire cures when dealing with any disease, certainly there are options beyond these teetering antiviral pharmaceuticals for fighting swine flu. I’ve written before about a natural protocol you can use to both build immunity and fight the flu virus to make sure your viral load stays down. But the establishment certainly wants no part of an alternative approach, as evidenced by a statement released on May 1st by the FDA announcing that “[The only] antiviral drugs approved by the FDA for treatment and prophylaxis of the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus are Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate) and Relenza (zanamivir).” (I guess the FDA is unaware of the virus’ growing resistance to Tamiflu.)
Again, considering how barely effective we know these drugs to be against the flu, it’s no wonder people want to inoculate themselves. The fact is that if the healthcare establishment would emerge from the Middle Ages, so might the thinking of the populace it serves.