Too much news

I need to stop watching the news.

I’m sure there are a lot of interesting things going on in the world, I’m sure there are a lot of important stories to be following, but the only thing I know about is the H1N1 vaccine. Vaccination clinics opened here on Monday, and it’s been a non-stop media frenzy since then. I made the mistake of attempting to go to the post office on Monday to mail my mother-in-law’s birthday gift (Her actual birthday occurred two days earlier; I am a bad daughter-in-law. Also, we gave her socks. Socks! She requested them but still. Bad daughter-in-law.). The post office is located beside the vaccination clinic for my quadrant of the city. There were probably a thousand people lined up OUTSIDE waiting for their shot. I couldn’t even get into the parking lot. Flu shot be damned! I must get this package mailed! I’m losing points as we speak!

Anyway, the media surrounding this flu reminds me a little of Michael Jackson’s death. Like, there were other things happening when he died, but that was pretty much the only thing on the news. Even now, I will hear the occasional “New information in Michael Jackson’s suspicious death!” and I will have to dive for the remote to turn off the television. Not that there was not incredibly important information involved – for example, I did not know his child was named Blanket. How did I live before receiving that information? – but really. Really. Do we need 24 hour coverage of the death of a crazed former child star turned (allegedly) pedophile who gave the world the awesome song Billie Jean? No. We do not. Also we do not need any information with the words “Jon and Kate”. I have never seen that show but the mere word “Gosselin” releases in me the same impulse to dive for the remote.

Back to the flu shot. I find it very difficult to deal with all this information in the media. It feels like fear mongering on all sides. A bioethicist was on the news saying that everyone has a moral duty to get vaccinated, to avoid spreading the virus to high risk groups. Hmm. Then you have only to google “flu vaccination safety” to get two million results, most of them scary, some of them written by crackpots. Hmm. So what’s a mom to do?

My first instinct was to not vaccinate the kids, but vaccinate myself. Any mother who has had to care for sick kids while being sick herself can understand that. The kids have to get two doses, which seems a bit scary, the vaccine was made very quickly, which seems a bit scary, and anyway I have the luxury of being at home with them – if they get sick, I can keep them at home for as long as needed, no big deal.

No big deal except the case of the healthy Toronto boy who suddenly died of the virus. Died! My heart goes out to their family; losing one of my children is the worst thing I can imagine. If one of them died and there was something I could have done to prevent it, I would not be able to live with myself.

I was trying to think about this rationally. The percentage of deaths is small; the likelihood is small, but what if? As I walked the dog I thought about it. I stepped off the curb and a car suddenly sped around the corner, and the driver slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting me. How strange to be thinking about death from the flu and almost get hit by a car!

I just want to do the right thing for my kids. But what is that?


  1. Good luck in figuring that out eh.
    We did the vacc today at one of the 4 regular clinics. Two hours in line. But, for us, I’ve decided that the benefits outweigh the risks.
    It’s such a tough call.
    With you on the Gosslin thing. IT”S NOT NEWS PEOPLE, it’s gossip.
    News is the Sudan. Gosslins, that’s just grown-ups behaving badly.

  2. Subspace Beacon says

    The problem is not “too much news” but “too much infotainment masquerading as news.” And how scary is it that infotainment is not pinging my computer’s automatic spell check — is it a real word?

    I’m pretty sure that most of those 2 million google hits are being created by people in tinfoil hats. However, this blog post (in fact the whole blog) was very comforting, informative and empowering. And it seems to be written by a REAL, qualified person.

    Personally, we’ll get the jabs because to not have the shots is to let the mass-hysteria, the bad-science, and the piss-poor-media hype win.

  3. We’ve had our regular flu shots, but the H1N1 vaccine isn’t available here yet. If it doesn’t show up till April, I might pass. 🙂

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