There were plenty of predictions this past spring that the H1N1 virus was going to come back to bite us in the ass this winter, and last week a White House advisory panel made some dire predictions of a "worst case scenario" in which half the country could get infected, 1.8 million could end up hospitalized, and 90,000 could die -- which would be more than twice the average for a normal flu season. And as we've seen, this flu has been striking many in the 30- to 45-year-old range who may have a pre-existing condition such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, or obesity -- some scientists believe the virus hasn't affected older people in greater numbers due to some pre-existing immunity from an earlier strain of the flu, perhaps from the early 1960s or before. Hopefully if you have any of these pre-existing conditions, if you're preggers, or if you have school-aged kids, you'll run out and get flu shots in October, and the rest of you will wash your goddamn hands twenty times a day and STAY HOME FROM WORK if you show any symptoms. This ain't no SARS! (Perhaps try one of the stylish animal masks above from Samiraboon.)
Also in the news, Rachel Maddow had it; Stanford is seeking people for a swine flu vaccination trial in which they are experimenting to stretch the number of vaccines available using a chemical adjuvant; and airlines like Virgin America have been taking precautions for flu season, such as providing anti-bacterial wipes and sanitizing gel for passengers, face masks for the sick, and removing pillows and blankets for daytime flights -- providing only wrapped, sterile items for red-eyes only.