Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More on H1N1

The economics of H1N1 and influenza in general have been things that I have commented on multiple times.  Today on the Marc Steiner show, I heard a physician/vaccination researcher being interviewed who made a really good comment.  The H1N1 infection does seem to be any worse for complications than the general flu--in other words of every 10000 people who are infected the same number will have cases that are bad enough to land them in the hospital and/or die.  The key is that more people are getting the flu (the guest described the "attack rate"  as four times higher) because no one under age 50 has been exposed to anything like this version of the flu virus before.

How does this relate to economics?  Well, consider someone who had not gotten an influenza vaccination in past years.  If this person recognizes that hospital beds are likely to be more crowded with H1N1 cases, the person might be more likely to get a seasonal influenza vaccination.  In addition, an otherwise healthy young to early middle age adult might reach the conclusion that the risk of H1N1 is sufficiently high to warrant getting a vaccination even though he or she had not in the past.  Again, this is the overall risk of complications and death which is made up of the two parts and the one part (getting influenza) has changed considerably.

In summary, a lot more people will probably get flu shots this year.  Even me.  Is it because of public health officials' exhortations?  Perhaps in part.  But it is also a simple economic reaction to a change in risks.    


  1. I just came home from working in the Emergency Room and I was asked to sign a document protesting the hospital's position to fire healthcare workers who refuse to take the H1N1 vaccine mandated by NYS. I believe the NYS mandate to have healthcare workers take both the flu vaccine and H1N1 has caused a distrust in the vaccines this year because they are being mandated (this is the first time it is being mandated by the state). I believe from my private practice this distrust in taking the H1N1 vaccine is also strongly present in the general public. I think anytime there is a strong push for any type of vaccine or healthcare alert, the public becomes suspicious and holds off on taking the recommendations. I believe this type of suspicion will decrease the amount of individuals getting the flu vaccine (even individuals that may have taken it last year)and will decrease the vaccine immunization rate for H1N1 for these individuals. The economics will change as there will be a surplus of H1N1 vaccines produced with few takers.
    Nancy, RN, MS, FNP-BC

  2. The H1N1 virus is a public health threat that must be taken seriously. By proactively vaccinating against the virus, we can hope to prevent a pandemic outbreak, which could have a crippling effect on our economy.

    There has been a lot of media talk about the H1N1 virus -at almost hysterical levels. But, there is reason to be concerned. An outbreak would fill hospital beds to overcapacity. That would be a problem because health care providers will also have fallen ill. The workforce in turn would be decimated which would have a detrimental effect on monetary flow.

    I agree that there is a great deal of misinformation circulating and education is crucial to prevention. Time will tell whether the predictors of doom have cried wolf yet again or determined the Ides of March. –Jon Barone, MS, RN, FNP-BC