Friday, November 27, 2009

Inoculated at last!

Today my wife and I went to the Palais des Congrès to get vaccinated for the influenza A(H1N1). We each received a 0.50 mL dose of Arepanrix H1N1 with adjuvant (the vaccine produced by GlaxoSmithKline). Everything went well and we were out the doors in less than an hour and half (including the fifteen or twenty minute wait after the injection to make sure that there was no adverse reaction). It was well organized and the crowd was moving relatively fluidly. Now we only have to wait for the immunization process to take place in our bodies.

My only complain is that this should have happened at least a month or two ago. Only now the vaccination campaign is extended to the general population. Only now we start seeing hand-sanitizing stations in every public places (although there's still some public libraries without any). As usual all level of government were quite slow to respond to the potential crisis. That's the key word: potential. A pandemic is impossible to predict accurately and the adequate response is hard to formulate. If you prepare too forcefully you are an alarmist and if you do too little you are an uncaring bastard. For example, people feel that the Y2K bug (okay, it was a computer glitch not a virus, but the analogy is nevertheless valid) was much ado about nothing. There was no catastrophy so they feel they were lied to about the risk. They never saw the army of programmers that worked days and nights to rewrite computer codes and therefore making sure no catastrophy would happen. Such nuance is difficult to understand for the people, so lets use another allegory (like Jesus did). A pandemic is like a hurricane: it might hit a populated area or not; it might gain some strenght and hit as a full category five, causing a devastating disaster like Katrina or fizzle and just pass as a drenching tropical storm. It's unpredictable, but we must get ready nevertheless. If you evacuate a multi-million-inhabitant city and nothing happens you might incur the ire of the population, but the alternative -- doing nothing -- is far worse! We've been lucky so far. The H1N1 didn't spread as fast or wasn't as virulent as the specialists feared. However we've already detected here and there signs of mutation in the virus and there's no way to predict if it won't get more lethal like its Spanish flu predecessor was. We can only make sure we're ready and hope it won't get worse.

On this subject in the news (in French, sorry):

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