My how time flies…
When I last wrote here, it was October and now here we are in 2015! So, first off…
I would also like to say to all the new people who are following this blog…
I am extremely grateful to see so many people choosing to sign up and I promise I will do my best to keep adding to this site.
It’s been a rather incredible time over the last few months and as you might expect, very busy. I’ve been to conferences, invited seminars, given a few book presentations and been asked to do dozens of media interviews ranging in topics from kissing microbes to a mumps outbreak.
I’ve also had the chance to meet some other health enthusiasts and evangelists along the way. Some of them will appear here on the blog over the coming weeks and months and I am sure you will love what they have to say and share.
As to the development of sciPOP – the art of story re-telling – it’s been going well in the real world. I’ve been so thankful for the kind words and even more so for the purchases of The Germ Code. I am still amazed that the tome – my very first experiment in sciPOP – continues to do well. I just wish I could sign all of them as thanks.
As to what will come in 2015, I have started to find ways to experiment with sciPOP so I can gauge how to further develop it. Some of these experiments will appear here while others will be incorporated into other works and appearances. Also, some researchers will share their experiments here. To learn more about how this will progress, you can click on the link in the header to find out more.
If you have an idea for sciPOP, be sure to let me know. If it’s a question, I may use it for a future article or perhaps in some other fashion in the media. If you wish to share an experiment, then please feel free to let me know and we can find a way to let everyone know about it.
Now on to the experiment…
(and yes, this is my sciPOP mad scientist look)
As to what construes a sciPOP experiment, it really means taking a look at science in a different light that appeals to the general public. One such example happened last week when I was asked to join CBC to discuss a recent new article focusing on the flu vaccine.
As you may have heard, the flu vaccine for this season is not as effective as public health officials might like. Instead of the usual 70% average, data revealed the ability to protect against one of the four major circulating strains could be lower than 50%. While the usual protection will still be there for the other strains, this lack of a ‘winning record’ against this one particular strain led officials to sound the alarm and forewarn of a bad flu season.
When I was asked to discuss this topic, one of the questions focused on whether people would turn away from the vaccine. After all, when a medical treatment or vaccine is considered to be less effective, some people tend to ask, “Why bother?” It made sense in one way and yet, considering the tolerance of failure in regards to some other offerings, also led to some head-scratching and eventually an answer:
Think about it (and for those who heard me on CBC I hope you have):
Sports fans are rabid for their teams. Living in Toronto, I know how loyal this city is to the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. The motto, “Go Leafs Go,” is as much a part of this city as the CN Tower.
Yet, when you take a look at the record, the team has not done particularly well. In the last ten years, the team has struggled and even had losing records for some season. They have only made the playoffs once and even then suffered one of the most dramatic losses seen in the history of the game.
If you were to ask a fan if he or she would say, “Why bother?” to supporting their team, even in the worst of seasons, you would be met with ridicule and spite. It’s just that simple – no matter what happens, a fan is a fan always.
So why is it then that we cannot make the same fanaticism for the flu vaccine?
Let’s take it a little further. When you look at the mechanics of vaccination, we realize the jab is really a sports trainer for our bodies. In the same way as pumping weights helps muscles, practice time helps mental acuity, and proper nutrition helps metabolism, a vaccine prepares the immune system. Even though the shot may not be 100% effective, it will still provide an opportunity for the body to get some practice and develop memory.
For this year, it may be too late to convince people to change their perspective. Most have already made their decision to either get the shot or to give it a pass. But as we move into the flu season for the Southern Hemisphere – which by the way, the vaccine is properly developed – and then into the fall and winter up here in the North, perhaps we can learn to become fans rather than critics.
If all goes well, we might see a rise in the number of people getting the vaccine and with any luck, a less than robust flu season to come.
Let me know what you think by commenting below. Even if it’s just to wish everyone a happy new year, I’d love to hear from you.
P.S. I do have one more note for those who heard me on CBC. When I spoke about the nature of the vaccine, I mentioned it contained an H3N2 strain, 2 H1N1 strains including the pandemic and a B strain. I goofed. It’s actually H3N2, H1N1 (pandemic), and 2 B strains. I apologize for the error.