Monday, October 17, 2005

An Interesting Proposal

David Dobbs proposes that to fight the flu, we ought to be immunizing the children instead of the elderly:
Specifically, vaccinating 30 percent of preschool and schoolchildren would reduce a community's chance of flu epidemic from 90 percent to 65 percent. Vaccinating 50 percent of kids would cut the chance to 36 percent. And vaccinating 70 percent of them would shrink the risk of epidemic to 4 percent. Any of those scenarios would prevent more elderly deaths than giving flu shots to 90 percent of seniors.
Yeah, that sounds about right to me. Kids spread disease to each other. Sick kids are mostly taken care of by moms, to whom they also spread the disease. Moms with sick kids go to the store to get food and medicine for said kids, sometimes bringing the sick kids along because they have no other options (it's hard to find someone who will watch sick kids). Sick moms go to the store too, because there's nobody else who will do the shopping and the family has to eat. Elderly people go to the store and get sick. Moms also form a large portion of the nursing corps who take care of the isolated elderly who don't go to the store. Conclusion: If moms never got sick (ha!), then they wouldn't be transmitting disease to the elderly.

Of course, maybe this just resonates with me right now because I spent my weekend being a sick mom-- and I was still the one tasked with going to the store to get food and medicine, and administering same to sick kids, even though (unlike many moms home with sick kids) I have a perfectly capable husband.

(Link via Typical Joe, via Basil's Blog.)