Bad flu seasons put a heavy burden on emergency rooms prior to COVID, but because it is seasonal, the strains are variable and the vaccination efficacy is variable a break always occurred in between the bad seasons. People just put up with it. With COVID, we’re in a never ending bad flu season.
We Don’t Learn From History
During the 2017-2018 flu season an estimated 52,000 people died in the USA according to the CDC. Time reported that hospitals overwhelmed by flu patients were treating them in tents.
“We are pretty much at capacity, and the volume is certainly different from previous flu seasons,” says Dr. Alfred Tallia, professor and chair of family medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center in New Brunswick, New Jersey. “I’ve been in practice for 30 years, and it’s been a good 15 or 20 years since I’ve seen a flu-related illness scenario like we’ve had this year.”
Tallia says his hospital is “managing, but just barely,” at keeping up with the increased number of sick patients in the last three weeks. The hospital’s urgent-care centers have also been inundated, and its outpatient clinics have no appointments available.
The public accepts that situation. People go to work sick, bring their kids to school sick and people due. Billionaires and corporations line their pockets because they insist that people cannot stay home with pay if they are sick.
Nothing has changed with public policy since that 2017-2018 flu season to ameliorate the issue. The expectation is that the public will accept that tens or even hundreds of thousands will die each year either from the flu or COVID and that’s just how it goes.
The CDC recently revised rules on how long people can stay out of work for COVID.
People with COVID-19 should isolate for 5 days and if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), follow that by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others to minimize the risk of infecting people they encounter.
They’re saying you could be infectious for those 5 days you’re wearing a mask, but go to work anyway.
Vaccination Is A Stopgap
Vaccination stems some of the rising tide of COVID related hospitalizations, but we know at this point that we will never get everyone vaccinated. If people avoid getting vaccinated for polio and measles they aren’t going to take this vaccine. Even after COVID we managed to get only 52.1% of the population to take the flu vaccine.
Regardless of how many people take the vaccine, the spread is not going to stop via vaccination. Vaccination for COVID is partly to defend against infection, but mostly to ameliorate the symptoms if you do get sick and keep you out of the hospital. The flu vaccine serves essentially the same purpose. With either one, when you get sick, even while vaccinated, you still transmit the disease just as much as an unvaccinated person.
We can’t fix the core problem without changing the system and eliminating the for profit motive behind basic healthcare and giving people mandatory paid sick leave. Right now the vaccination blame game is being used as the excuse for not making those changes.
The Vaccination Blame Game
The claim is that the real problem are the people not getting vaccinated. This is certainly in some sense true. If we were able to get everyone vaccinated, possibly this could be just another horrible flu season, but since we’ve never been able to get everyone vaccinated that’s a pipe dream. Corporations have always been content to let people die in the tens of thousands as long as the wheels of the machine kept turning and only now that the wheels are coming off do they start to point fingers at individuals for their behavior with regard to vaccination.
The system was broken before this pandemic started. We never were able to vaccinate everyone effectively. We’ve never stemmed a pandemic via vaccination and we’re never going to with an imperfect vaccine and a virus that mutates as quickly as COVID-19.
That the unvaccinated are to blame and not our terrible system is becoming accepted by many circles. The CDC can tell infectious people to go back to work and wear a mask and most people don’t blink an eye, because that’s always been the status quo.
We need to change the status quo. People should not go to work sick, people should be able to see the doctor without bankrupting themselves. The real sickness is our healthcare system and the diagnosis is terminal.