Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine flu

I've already survived two flu-pandemics: one in 1957, the other in 1968.

I also remember the swine flu fiasco of 1976 -- the one that was supposed to kill a million people. (As I recall, nobody died from the flu, but the vaccine killed 25.)

So when it comes to the recent outbreak of swine flu, my initial reaction is, "been there, done that."

To be sure, flu is no joke. Even in a good year, it kills roughly 36,000 Americans. And there's no question the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is watching this latest outbreak with a great deal of concern.

But I don't see any reason to panic just yet. And while there are steps we should take to prevent its spread, these are all things we should be doing anyway:
  • Wash your hands before and after you visit people. (Carrying a small bottle of hand sanitizer makes this easy.)
  • Make it easy for church members to wash their hands. Put a big bottle of hand sanitizer on the serving table at potlucks. And you may want to put hand-sanitizer in your children's Sabbath School classrooms as well . . . though you'll want to keep the bottle someplace where the children won't be tempted to drink it.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze. Flush the tissue when you're done -- and don't forget to wash your hands.
  • Consider canceling meetings on a case-by-case basis. If you've a prayer meeting or study group that appeals mainly to people who are especially vulnerable (i.e. those who are very old, those who are very young, and those whose immune system has been compromised by drugs, illness, or diabetes), then you may need to cancel meetings during the current outbreak. And if the flu causes schools to close, then you may need to put your Sabbath-morning worship service on hold as well.
Finally, this is probably not a good time to preach on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; instead, I would suggest you base this week's sermon on Psalm 26:6.

No comments: