A recent report shows that even in Toronto, Canadians generally didn't buy the H1N1 hype, and wisely chose to ignore the hysteria and go about their normal lives.
I've always felt that the H1N1 hysteria was overblown and that people who bought into it were worrying themselves sick over nothing. I can recall the media breathlessly reporting that this could be the Black Plague of our times. Opposition politicians literally stood on dead bodies to declare that the government was mishandling the H1N1 response and demanding that every Canadian be given a vaccine immediately or tens of thousands would die. A conservative blogger even accused me of putting her children at risk with my opposition to the H1N1 hysteria.
In the end, it was all a tempest in a teapot as the vaccine came out as predicted and was given out to those who wanted it. As more and more people contracted H1N1 (including my family members) people found out that it really wasn't as dangerous as the media had hyped it to be, and ignored the chicken littles who were claiming that the sky was falling. The second wave fizzled and people have pretty much forgotten the whole unpleasant events.
Of course, the 'experts' are upset now because two things have become clear. The first is that they were absolutely, 100% wrong about H1N1. Not only was it no more dangerous than the normal flu, but the vaccination program (which only vaccinated 28% of people in Toronto) didn't prevent a 'second wave' as they may have previously believed. The second thing that is annoying them, and probably this is the hardest for them to accept, is that people stopped believing them and ignored their very clear and explicit instructions to get the vaccine.
"How dare those uncouth plebians dare to ignore our instructions!" They cry from their ivory towers. "We know best for them!"
Of course, one might expect that it would be wise to heed the call to action from a person who has dedicated their life to the research of dangerous diseases and pandemics. But time and time again, they have proven themselves to be chicken littles, crying that the world is ending whenever a new flu strain is found. So is it any wonder that people stop believing them?
Now I know all the arguments, they decided to 'err on the side of caution'. It was better to be 'safe than sorry'. But anyone looking objectively at the facts could have come to the same conclusion that I did and concluded that the whole issue was fabricated hysteria. As I posted on my blog at the time, the experience of Australia without a vaccine should have been enough to reassure us that the world was not coming to a crashing end.
Unfortunately, the loss of public trust in medical experts can have all kinds of tragic consequences. There will come a day when we need these experts to warn us of a serious and dangerous disease or virus and their cries of 'wolf' will go unheeded for far too long because the public stopped trusting them. Next time there is a flu 'pandemic' both the experts and the media should consider this before promoting mass hysteria.