Amidst the hoopla over the Gardasil (HPV/cervical cancer) vaccine this week, one news item largely overlooked concerned OSHA and the CDC issuing more pandemic flu guidelines. In the event of a severe pandemic, children would be largely quarantined; no school, no daycare, no spreading the nasty little hobbitses...er, I mean, flu viruses...until the pandemic started to abate.
By itself, that sounds prudent. Past studies have shown children to be the principal "vectors" for spreading the flu. Interrupt transmission by keeping them away from each other.
I'm curious if anyone on the federal level has considered the economic consequences of this. As a med school professor used to say, "if this is true, what does this imply?"
No school or day care means teachers and day care workers out of work, possibly for as long as 2 months. Parents will need to take off work themselves to care for their children. And parents' employers will no longer be able to function. Even if we prevent the flu from causing widespread death (which is very optimistic), the US economy would basically crash.
Has our government considered how they would bail out millions of small businesses? Pay for massive unemployment benefits? Would public employees still be paid?
On a personal level, what will happen to healthcare? Will I basically shut down my pediatric office for 2 months? Will I temporarily confine my practice to check-ups and children without fever or respiratory symptoms? Will I only allow one child in the office at a time? Will I leave my office to staff the ER? Note that none of these options leave me with a financially viable practice. After Katrina, I don't have any more financial reserves. A two-month shut-down--or even a slow-down--would most likely cause me to go under without state and federal assistance.
The devastation from Katrina will be repeated, but this time on a national scale. I'm not talking about the physical destruction; I'm referring to the economic fallout. The fact that we have still failed to address the Katrina recovery makes me very, very scared that pandemic flu would be far, far worse.
Have a nice day. >:)