Swine Flu School Panic? NGC Now Offers Sick Day Media

keep-calm-and-carry-onNov. 16, 2009 Tune into the way back machine to get some pertinent media wisdom for today’s H1N1 pandemic scaring the stuffing out of young kids.

See the poster at left? It was produced in 1939 at the beginning of WWII as a precautionary poster to quell panic and stiffen resolve if the Nazis succeeded in invading Great Britain.

Though never used, it can teach us a lot about prevention, media pandemics and the helpfulness of having a game plan should swine flu hit local youth in and around your environs…as the national emergency declaration has sent some families into a total tizzy. (not Bruce Sallan, today’s guest blogger dad, who details his son’s H1N1 in a play by play after the jump)

While last month’s chilling 60 minutes show with the CDC whipped up parental panic about H1N1 being transferred from 10 feet away, entering kids’ lungs, and spreading with ‘unprecedented’ and ‘tragic’  impact on youth far more than adults, people seemed to miss the ‘less than 1%’ fatality factor, and 99% malaise, much like the seasonal flu. Add to that, the whole vaccine controversy which had my own brother sending me an ‘all caps shouting email warning’ complete with ‘READ THIS’ and a gazillion exclamation points, so it’s quite clear media plays a vital role in helping or hyping.

Good news using media? Starting today, the National Geographic Channel helps out on the learning front airing two-hour program blocks (11-1pm ET) complete with web-based activity guides for distance learning…

swine fluThose parents who don’t want lil’ Johnny to ‘fall behind’ can now tuck him in and keep swine flu from spreading by home schooling via TV. (more on National Geographic Channel’s programming here)

Also airing on NGC Nov. 29, the science of pandemics that offers historical perspective tracking outbreaks via timeline like a hit parade of disease control, from avian flu to the days of the plague. Both helpful, imho.

My point is, educate yourself, take public health precautions, but don’t ‘freak out’ and feed the media machine to create further crisis where there needn’t be one…

Here’s CDC Asst. Surgeon General Anne Schuchat dispelling prevalent H1N1 myths, using the The DoctorsTV.com as her video distribution channel. And here’s the weekly update on pediatric cases and H1N1 directly from the CDC (updates every Friday) as well as a snapshot from KidsHealth.org with their take on same. Again, consider the source on any and all sites, keep vested interests in mind, as well as a modicum of calm as per the WWII poster!

Today, I’m particularly pleased to bring a first hand experiential up-close-and-personal parenting point of view, from guest blogger Bruce Sallan who offers his own ‘daily journal’ of his son’s bout with swine flu.

If you gain even an ounce of perspective, I’ll feel you’ve been inoculated with some media literacy. Here’s to health and wellness inside and out…

bsallanA Dad’s Point-of-View, by Bruce Sallan

My Son Has the Swine Flu – A Daily Journal

Editor’s Note: Bruce Sallan is not a doctor and this column is not intended to be giving medical advice.  It is about his experience with his son and the swine flu, and his belief that the media may have exaggerated and scared the public about its risks. Regardless, you should take every precaution, consult your doctor if there are any symptoms, and to secure proper information, go to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) web-sites – http://cdc.gov/h1n1flu/sick.htm

We just went through the swine flu with our older son, Will.

We didn’t panic or allow the hysteria of the msm (mainstream media) to scare us.  His first reaction was simply, “Darn, I’m going to miss Halloween.”

sick2I believe our media have become hysteria mongers, as well as all too often focusing on their agenda vs. objective reporting.

They devote way too much time to subjects unworthy of so much coverage, such as the balloon boy or the tragic deaths of celebrities.

With the swine flu, we’ve been deluged with scare reports from the media, ignoring the fact that each year tens of thousands of Americans die of the regular flu.  As with AIDS, the panic is over-wrought and generalized to scare everyone when the reality is there are more at-risk groups for just about every such illness.

I kept a daily journal of our experience, which follows.  I hope it’s helpful to all parents and people in giving a more realistic view of this strain of flu. I still caution everyone to be careful, see their doctors, and otherwise be smart about washing hands, but hope you will have a better perspective of this than the media has foolishly scared us to think.

Day One –Will is sent home from school as the nurse called to say he had a mild fever.  We put him to bed, took his temp, and called our pediatrician.  He had a 101 fever, a slight cough, but otherwise seemed fine. The pediatrician’s office said to give him Motrin, fluids, and see if he still had a temperature tomorrow and, if so, to bring him in.  Later that evening, his temp was just 100 and he was feeling pretty good.

Day Two – Will woke up feeling fine and actually wanted to go to school.  We thought better and kept him home and in bed.  Later, when his temp was still over 100, we took him to the doctor.  20 minutes after they took a swab, we got the diagnosis – he had the swine flu.  They prescribed a Z-pac (5-day dose of antibiotics) and TamiFlu.  By now, he was complaining of some aches and pains and a general soreness throughout his body.  He also was complaining about missing Halloween.  My wife told him that we were going to have to cancel the party she’d been planning for weeks because of his infection and he actually quieted down and realized he wasn’t the only one affected.  A pretty amazing realization for a teenager!

Day Three – He’s sleeping in late, so we haven’t taken his temp yet.  Was playing his guitar when I went in to check and it was normal.  When I asked him how he was feeling, he replied with total teen contempt, “I feel fine,” which really meant, “I’m fine, why do I have to stay in my room, why can’t I go out and enjoy Halloween.”

Day Four – This morning Will apologized for being moody and grumpy.  He doesn’t understand why he has to still stay home when he’s now feeling fine, just four days after getting sick and three days into his 5-day course of meds.  I told him, per his doctor, that after the five days of meds, if he goes another 24 hours with a normal temp, then he can return to school.  The funny part is he’s so bored; he actually wants to go to school.  His temp is still normal.

Resignation has set in.  He knows he’s not going to talk his way out of his room and back to school.  It’s sort of like the stages of grieving, according to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.  My son was in denial, then anger, and now is in “acceptance.”

Day Five – Last night, Will got a surprise visit from his girlfriend, her step-dad, and another friend.  They talked to him from outside his room, through the window, for a few minutes.  It was both a boost and a reminder of his “in prison” status.

One amazing thing has happened with his forced lock-down time.  He’s actually reflected on plans for the future.  A teenager reflecting on anything? As he’s always loved music, demonstrated real talent, as well as developing a lot of knowledge, he’s decided he wants to go to a music school and learn production.  While he still wants to be a “rock star,” this sort of mature alternative planning is quite the anomaly for him.

Today, his temperature is still normal.  His energy is high.  If this is the worse the swine flu throws us, I’ll consider this family extremely lucky.  This afternoon, he even went out to the garage and played drums for a while.

Tomorrow is his last day of meds.  If he’s got a normal temp for another 24 hours, it’s back to school for him and this episode will have been easier than a lingering cough or cold.  Amazing.  And, as yet, no one else in the house has got it, though one of our dogs came up lame for a while (she’s veeerrrrryyyyy old).

A friend of his just got diagnosed with swine flu and they thought they could hang out together as they’re both already infected. Are they nuts?  Nope, just teenagers.

Day Six – The drama awaits us of whether he’ll have a temp today? He finished his course of meds and today will determine if he can finally leave his confinement.  He was all ready for school when I came in to take his temperature.  I sat with him, patiently waiting for the results.  Normal.  Off to school.

So, what did we learn from our bout with the swine flu?  Simply, don’t listen to our Vice President, don’t listen to our media, and DON’T worry about it if you’re the average person.  Yes, if you’re in one of the risk categories, be extra careful.  Also, and we did this constantly and no one else has so far contracted it, have hand sanitizer everywhere in the house.  You can’t overdo it.

Finally, and I’m dead serious, if you have a child that is stuck home with the swine flu and ends up like my son, with negligible symptoms, your biggest problem will be his boredom.  Help him or her out with books, CDs, DVDs, etc.  If they don’t have a computer or TV in their room, move one in just for the duration.

And, most of all, don’t panic.

Bruce Sallan gave up his showbiz career a decade ago to raise his two boys, full-time, now 13 and 16. His internationally syndicated column, A Dad’s Point-of-View, is his take on the challenges of parenthood and male/female issues, both as a single dad and now, newly remarried, in a blended family. This is his second guest blog entry on Shaping Youth, his first is here, called “Not Too Old For Rock & Roll” –For more visit BruceSallan.com

Solid FAQ From Babble.com’s Swine Flu & Children



  1. A new strain of swine flu that is resistant to anti-viral drugs has been discovered in the UK for the first time.

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