The World Health Organization estimates that the flu kills 290,000 to 650,000 people per year.
In the age of COVID-19, I’m surprised we tolerated this high number for an annual respiratory disease that could be suppressed with better hygiene, social distancing, mandatory vaccinations. Over the past few years, we’ve collectively shrugged and come to accept a brutal and debilitating annual flu season. People will keep dying from the flu until we change our habits and rituals.
Once we are through COVID-19 here are a couple things we need to keep up and change:
- Stay home if you are sick. There needs to be social pressure and public shaming if someone comes to work sick.
- Wear a mask if you feel sick. You are protecting others, and it should be celebrated.
- Temperature checks in airports, malls, offices.
- Countries, where the virus is eradicated, will require vaccines as part of a travel visa approval. No vaccine, no visa.
- Disband and reboot the way we frisk and touch travelers at airports. Everything should be digital. We built security apparatuses to detect guns and bombs but have done nothing to stop the virus from boarding a plane. An anti-vaxer is far more dangerous than a purple-haired granny who sets off the metal detector.
- Offer generous sick leave benefits. Don’t work with or for people who don’t offer this as part of the employment.
- Install sanitizing stations everywhere. They need to be as ubiquitous as drinking fountains and trash cans.
- Encourage working from home.
- Stop flying so much. You don’t need to go to Hawaii every year. Instead, take a road trip and see your own backyard.
- Cut back on traveling for business. Sales meetings can be done via video conferencing.
- Stop shaking hands, hugging, and kissing when saying hello and goodbye.
- Buy locally produced food. Eating a seasonal diet will boost your immune system, strengthen your community economy, and you’ll better understand the source of what’s going into your mouth.
- The best vitamin is fitness, sunshine. Exercise every day. Reward healthy, vaccinated people with lower taxes, lower health insurance premiums, lower interest rates on their mortgages, etc.
- Roll out mandatory and trackable digital vaccine verifications.
- Attack Climate Change the same way we are attacking COVID-19. The adverse side effects of Climate Change like pollution, drought, famine, floods, fires will displace and kill more people than influenza if we don’t act now.
We don’t have to accept 650,000 people dying every year as usual. Let’s fix it.