1 Way to Lighten Up About Swine Flu: Vote for the Best YouTube Flu Video

With vaccine due in October, parents will soon have to make a choice about shots.

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I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of worrying about swine flu. Although it’s cutting a swath through college campuses and schools, with the death of a 20-year-old student from H1N1 reported at Cornell University, so far most of the cases have been pretty mild. If all goes well with clinical trials, a vaccine against H1N1 flu will be available by mid-October. Today is the American Public Health Association’s annual Get Ready Day, when it urges families to prep for disaster, be that pandemic flu or a winter storm.

And as an antidote to all that worry and preparation, we can vote for our favorite swine flu prevention videos on YouTube. Are you going with the seriously yucky toothbrush? It’s used to curry-comb a cat! Or the rapping doctor? Yes, it’s time for some H1N1 fun!

I think I’m not the only parent suffering from H1N1 anxiety burnout. Some pediatricians are reporting that younger parents are saying they’re not going to have their children get the shots. In the Los Angeles Times, Melissa Healy chalks that up to lingering concerns about possible links between vaccines and autism, although numerous studies have found there is no tie. Also, younger parents have never seen children sick with measles, polio, and other deadly childhood diseases that have been almost eliminated in the United States, thanks to vaccines. I’m not antivaccine, but I never did take in my then preschooler for the recommended seasonal flu vaccine, figuring that she was healthy and we would accept the very rare risk of complications and death from seasonal flu.

But we’re planning to have our now-6-year-old immunized against both seasonal flu, with a vaccine being offered at school, and H1N1, if the vaccine is available. Nobody knows how bad swine flu is going to be, which is why this run-up to flu season has been so nervous-making. Children and young adults have been most at risk so far. I’m hoping that it will be just another flu season, but I’d hate to be wrong about that and have my child end up in intensive care on a ventilator, which has happened to some children in our area. I worry more about that than I do about possible vaccine side effects. But other parents, understandably, are responding to the uncertainty about swine flu’s risks and the new vaccine by saying they probably won’t have their children vaccinated. How about you?

As to the H1N1 prevention videos, the Department of Health and Human Services asked for them in an effort to crowd-source the public-health message. They’re a mixed bag but fun, and 8-year-olds are sure to love the toothbrush’s journey across computer keys, a railing, and a cat’s head (the point being that not washing your hands is just as germy). The rapping doc’s not bad, either. There are 232 entries all told. The contest closes tomorrow, so vote now! The winner gets $2,500 and public-health glory.