I enjoy reading Chris Guillebeau’s Art of Non-Conformity blog and newsletters. His outlook on the world differs from mine only in its implementation. His writing resonates with me on many levels. A recent post titled “What is Freedom?” made me (as usual) think and analyze my situation and life.
Don’t worry, dear, I don’t plan to leave my job anytime soon.
Freedom means different things to different people. For Chris, freedom means being self-employed and in control of his own destiny. For many in my circle of friends, freedom means security, health insurance, and the ability to pay our children’s college tuition. For my women peers, age-wise and academically similar to me, freedom means knowing we’re healthy and that we can get the treatment we need no matter what.
Regular readers know that women’s access to health care, appropriate health care, and the ability to make health care decisions based on medical needs rather than narrow-minded poorly-written legislation is — off soapbox, Daisy, this post is meant to go in another direction. It’s related, of course, but it’s not an election post (for the most part).
Regular readers also know that I’m a strong advocate of vaccines in general and influenza vaccines (flu shots). I’ve discussed the impact of a flu epidemic on local health, but let’s analyze a different angle this time: the impact of widespread illness on education.
It seems logical, and yet people forget. Anyone in a classroom full of students is vulnerable to catching the flu. Anyone, that is, including students, teachers, para-professionals, secretaries, and anyone else who breathes the same air and touches the same surfaces. And when the dominoes start to fall, each one knocks another into yet another. And then —
- Students get behind in school.
- Teachers adjust their instruction to accommodate multiple absences, usually slowing the pace significantly.
- More students fall ill, falling behind, and dragging out instruction even more.
- Teachers also become ill.
- Substitute teachers teach in place of the regular teachers, changing the delivery of instruction and the quality of learning.
- CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu.
- Vaccination of high-risk people is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.
- People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.
- Symptoms of influenza can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea.
- In the United States, thousands of healthy adults and children have to visit the doctor or be hospitalized from flu complications each year. Flu vaccination can help protect you and your family from the flu and its complications.