Flu Pandemics: What These Are and What You Can Do to Protect Yourself

Flu pandemic happen when a new flu virus for which people have little to no immunity emerges and no flu vaccine exists yet for it. The double whammy of zero immunity and zero vaccine means that the virus quickly spreads from one person to the next across an entire country, even across the entire world partly because of international travel, possibly resulting in millions of deaths. This was the case with the 1918 flu pandemic, which claimed the lives of an estimated 50 million people worldwide.

Cause for Concern

Indeed, people should worry about a flu pandemic. This is because a pandemic is a genetic, historical, and mathematical certainty with the worse pandemics happening every 91 years, give or take 4 years. In the case of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it to be of moderate severity with majority of infected persons making an effective recovery, even without medical intervention, within one week after the onset of their symptoms.  

Emphasis must be made that whenever and wherever a flu pandemic happens, every man, woman, and child around the world is at risk. Even with stricter travel restrictions including border control as well as increased vigilance among people, the virus cannot be stopped in its advance – it can be delayed but not stopped, unfortunately.  

Pandemics often manifest in waves lasting anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks. Scientists have yet to formulate an accurate way of predicting the number of deaths before the emergence of a new virus. Even under the best circumstances, such as in a case of a mild flu pandemic, there could be anywhere between 2 and 7.5 million deaths worldwide.

Indeed, a flu pandemic even in modern times can temporarily overwhelm the healthcare services industry as millions of people will require immediate medical attention. Furthermore, other sectors of society will be adversely affected because of the spike in absenteeism. For example, law enforcement, healthcare, and transportation and communications services may function below standard.

Sensible Protective Measures

Yes, there are many ways that you can reduce the odds of being infected with flu including:

  • Frequent washing of your hands especially before and after eating, using the toilet, and touching commonly used items. Even using a hand sanitizer or alcohol can lessen the risks.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow instead of into your hands or into the air; face the floor when you do so.
  • Avoid sharing your personal utensils including cups, forks and spoons, and plates.
  • Stay at home as much as possible when a flu outbreak occurs. Use a face mask, when recommended, to decrease your risks of exposure.

Of course, you must stay updated with your seasonal flu shot, which can be administered at Kroger pharmacies.