The media coverage on the sparse cases of Ebola in Texas and other areas of the United States have prompted fear among the public for a virus that is ultimately not very contagious and a minuscule health risk in the United States compared to other diseases. However, perhaps the Ebola epidemic in Africa will save thousands of lives stateside as the awareness and willingness to get a flu vaccine increases in tandem with curiosity and fear of Ebola.
Frank Bruni, a columnist for the New York Times, wrote a controversial op-ed article describing Americans’ inconsistency with risk management. He discusses the well-known dangers of the flu, skin cancer, and car accidents, yet millions of Americans decide to not get vaccinated, wear sunscreen, nor wear a seatbelt. While such criticisms come as no surprise, perhaps the Ebola outbreak in Africa is increasing the number of flu vaccinations in the US.
Infectious disease experts attribute deaths in the US at up to 50,000 a year due to the flu. However, flu vaccines are on the rise as well in counties across the United States attributed to an increased awareness and conversation around both Ebola and EV-68 a severe respiratory virus with polio-like symptoms spurred by media. Walgreens alone saw an increase in 10% in revenue from flu-shot administration and doctors report an uptick in patients getting the vaccine. GP magazine, what I can only imagine is the GQ for general practitioners, attributes the rise to a general increase in flu campaigns and free shots. Either way, I’m about to head to the pharmacy to get one myself.
-Will St. Amant