Risk assessment 101

OK, I know the world is full of people who are not persuaded by science, logic and reason. I’m related to some of them, and they’ve annoyed me for my entire life thus far.

But I also know that most people are woefully inadequate at accurately assessing risk. We only have to look at the number of people who are afraid of flying (odds of dying: 1 in 20,000) but get into their car several times a day without thinking about it (odds of dying: 1 in 100).

So we’ve got people who are all wound up about the H1N1 vaccine. Yes, it’s counterintuitive to take a bit of dead or attenuated virus in order to stimulate immunity to the real thing, but there are 300 years of immunological science behind the practice of vaccination. But people are more frightened of the vaccine than they are of swine flu, which makes absolutely no sense at all to me.

Especially since the numbers are in, and your likelihood of dying from complications from H1N1 flu are 1 in 5,641 (that’s 22 million cases with 3,900 deaths), while the chances of dying from the vaccine are 1 out of 2,166,666 (that’s 30 deaths in 65 million doses).

What’s more, those 30 deaths are being investigated by the World Health Organization, and the preliminary results are ruling out the vaccine as a cause of death in almost all of them.

So tell me, what’s safer? A bad case of the flu that turns into pneumonia—or worse yet, a light case of the flu that you then pass on to me so that I end up in the hospital with pneumonia, or you give it to Grandma and kill her—or a slight poke called a vaccination, followed by a half-day of soreness in one shoulder?

Enough already with the anti-vaccination crap.

Kel’s Hot Flash