Are you being prudent?

From xkcd:

I hope you are all washing your hands a lot and getting enough sleep.

Take care of yourselves.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. friarpark says:

    Family all got flu shots last night. Hope it wasn’t too late!

  2. Ellen says:

    I got the shot, but got the flu anyway. Happily, it was a light case. But then I got bronchitis. Last week was not a good one.

  3. Supertradmum says:

    I do not get the shot. I drink lots of water. I have been around two different convents full of flu and friends with flu in Malta. Thank God, I have not had anything yet. Now, there is four inches of snow on the ground and more coming. What you forgot to add, Fr. Z., was “keep warm”.

    Be sensible and if you are sick, please stay at home!

  4. APX says:

    I haven’t had any flu, but I’m at record high for colds. I am currently down with cold #6 since last Holy Week, which was when I got hit with my first big cold that I really didn’t need.

    I’ve noticed a pattern. If it’s a long weekend and/or I have a lot of work to do, I get really sick.

    Usually I only get sick once a year and that’s the end of it. This year is ridiculous. I blame it on over-studious students not staying home when they’re sick.

  5. wmeyer says:

    I recall having read somewhere that the ubiquitous hand sanitizer products are no more effective than a good use of bar soap. Thirty seconds or more of hand washing with soap is supposed to be very effective.

    I have never had a flu shot. Being now in my middle sixties, I will not be likely to change that, as the effectiveness of the shots declines as we age. Also, I have known far too many people who had problems with the shots, usually getting sick from them. And finally, if the CDC guesses wrong as to the strain most likely to hit us in any given year, the shot will not be effective at all.

  6. The Masked Chicken says:

    “…and getting enough sleep.”

    Hysterical laughter. You have no idea how much sleep can be disturbed until you have a brainstem problem. You wake up almost not knowing where you are and feeling like you can’t breath and, unlike waking from a nightmare, it can last for hours. Had an episode last night. I think a week of this would suffice for a five year prison term.

    The (Sleepy) Chicken

  7. The Egyptian says:

    TOO LATE, man oh man, two funerals in two days set me up (Monday and Tuesday) got the chills on Tuesday night and have felt like death warmed over every since. I’m so sore from coughing that I can’t cough except with a lot of pain in the ribs and below. So far the help and Dad has been able to handle the dairy farm work but now dad is down, so I pushed myself this morning, now back to bed, bless nyquil
    Dad always told me to “offer it up” but this still sucks

  8. Darren says:

    As one who has worked in the biocide industry and surfactant industry, I’ll share a little information which some may be already aware of.

    Solid bar soap, especially in its purest form (think Ivory) has greater antimicrobial activity than triclosan, the evil chemical biocide added to many hand sanitizers. Scrub away with the ordinary soap!

    Your liquid hand soaps (and shampoos, dish detergents etc), usually contain sodium lauryl sulfate, a surfactant with strong antimicrobial properties. It even has some antiviral properties in addition to its powerful effects against bacteria. Sodium laureth sulfate, another big surfactant, is not as strong against microbes. Cocamydopropyl betaine, which you also often see in liquid soap products is also antimicrobial.

    Avoid the triclosan, go with the purer products or those that use alcohol.

    Just a little friendly suggestion :)

    I also recommend raw garlic if you get sick. Chop it up, let it sit ten minutes or so and get nice and “fragrant”, and then spoon and swallow with plenty of water. (Don’t chew it). Do this for 2 or 3 days (2 or 3 cloves a day, judge by their size) and the potent antibiotic in garlic (the smelly stuff) will help you fight off the infection. I do this at the first sign symptom. I haven’t needed a prescription antibiotic since 2006, and that was because I had Lyme disease (so really, since 2002). Ok, there is one side effect… people might not want to be near you after 3 days of this, but then if you really don’t feel well you just might want to be left alone anyway…

  9. Liz says:

    Right before Christmas we broke out with the flu and then we got a nasty stomach virus (x 12. Those big, plastic ice cream buckets are invaluable during such times!) Finally, right after break ended, the last of us got the stomach bug. Now we are coming down with colds. When you have a large family and small children all of this stuff is just unavoidable. Some winters are worse that others, but you just get used to sickness being part of it. Thankfully, my mom taught my siblings and me to “offer it up.” At least it has some value. :) Sometimes you are thinking, “I offer this up for priests (or fill in the blank) and Jesus, please TAKE me now!” at the same time! Ha ha!

    Masked Chicken, that sounds awful. I will pray for you.

  10. Cantor says:

    Our pastor mentioned Sunday that given the number of folks in the parish whom the CDC might consider ‘at risk’, if we have symptoms of the flu…
    Stay home!
    Don’t come to church…
    Pray in private…
    God will NOT send us to hell…
    Well, he added, at least not for that one.

    Laughter followed, but message(s) received.

  11. mamajen says:

    My mom came down with the flu on Tuesday, the same day she babysat my son all day while I went to doctors appointments. Fortunately my household seems to have dodged it. Since I’m pregnant, I’m nervous about the flu, but not nervous enough to get the vaccine that made me horribly ill last time. So far my slightly germophobic tendencies and staying at home most of the time have kept me healthy. I haven’t even had a seasonal cold as I usually do.

  12. LisaP. says:


    The year we used hand sanitizer was our sickest year ever. I’m convinced they do more harm than good, either by creating a false sense of security or by breaking down natural body defenses against disease transmission.

    I’m with wmeyer on the use of the flu shot, we use some vaccinations but rarely these. Every time I see a medical professional they ask if we’ve had our flu shot and when I say we aren’t getting it they look at me like I’m beating my kids.

    Here’s the question I’ve never had a doctor or nurse be able to answer. If I get the flu this year I’ll have some limited immunity (likely) to the next years’ strains. But if I get this year’s flu shot, will it give me any immune advantage in any subsequent years? If not, or if it’s reduced, then I’m setting my kids up to need a flu shot every year of their lives because they’ll be building no natural immunity. Seems imprudent. Of course, if the shot does give full immunity this is a nonstarter, but I’ve never found a doctor or nurse who can tell me if it does, who has even considered the question, or who seems to care when I bring it up.

  13. LisaP. says:

    Thanks for the garlic advice, sounds horrible but I bet it works beautifully.

  14. wmeyer says:

    LisaP: The Wikipedia site has an entry on Duration of Prevention which speaks to that question in a limited degree.

    On my concern with the issue of age: The group most vulnerable to non-pandemic flu, the elderly, is also the least to benefit from the vaccine. There are multiple reasons behind this steep decline in vaccine efficacy, the most common of which are the declining immunological function and frailty associated with advanced age.[59] In a non-pandemic year, a person in the United States aged 50–64 is nearly ten times more likely to die an influenza-associated death than a younger person, and a person over age 65 is over ten times more likely to die an influenza-associated death than the 50–64 age group.[60]

    The citations given are for The Lancet and JAMA, so even though taken from Wikipedia, should be pretty reliable. I have not yet found the reference to rate of decline in prevention, which as I recall was given as a 50% drop per decade over age 30, but if that is correct, then with an initial effectiveness of about 65% at 30, the decline would be to approximately 8% at age 60, whereas the quote above suggests a 100 times greater risk of death from flu for age 65 and above, compared to age under 50.

  15. The Masked Chicken says:

    Yeah, Triclosan is bad. Overuse leads to antibiotic resistant bacteria.

    “. Ok, there is one side effect… people might not want to be near you after 3 days of this, but then if you really don’t feel well you just might want to be left alone anyway…”

    You won’t be spreading germs to others, either :)

    I can’t use garlic. It is a blood thinner, which while great for preventing ischemic stokes, is murder for people who are pre-disposed to hemorrhagic strokes. Be careful with natural products. Read the sane literature.

    I shudder to say this, but chicken soup really is good. It is an expectorant and has anti-viral properties.

    The Chicken

  16. cothrige says:

    I never use these hand sanitizer gels as I just don’t trust them. I don’t use anti-bacterial soaps either. I am suspicious of the long term effects of these products. Given the existence of things like MRSA and other drug resistant bacteria, which to a great extant arose from antibiotics and their over prescription and poor use, why do we insist on using these chemicals that do nothing but kill off the weakest microbes? The idea behind using soap and water is less killing germs than removing them from your hands, and that is an effective approach which doesn’t generally lead to the creation of super germs. I have very strong suspicions that these gels and anti-bac soaps will do just that however.

  17. acardnal says:

    RE wmeyer’s post above at 8:46 am: Although I am not a doctor nor do I play one on TV, I am aware that there is a new flu vaccine made especially for those over age 65. It is more potent than the regular vaccine given to those who are younger.

  18. LisaP. says:

    wmeyer, thank you! I’ve never seen it addressed, that was very interesting, and useful.

  19. Late for heaven says:

    According to the research, the most effective method to avoid the annual flu is to stop eating sugar and to keep your blood levels of Vitamin D at or above 40.

    Sugar dramatically lowers the number of White blood cells, the ones that fight infection. Vitamin D plays a multitude of roles in the immune system. Older people are especially at risk for Vitamin D deficiency since the ability to convert sunlight to Vit. D decreases with age. Old people also usually spend less time in the sun. I usually take 20 K units of D throughout the winter and always swear off sweets. This also has the effect of improving my sleep.

    Is it any wonder that the flu strikes so hard after Christmas?

  20. oakdiocesegirl says:

    Latefor heaven=What research? I have been a licensed MD more than 15 years & I know of nothing that supports your claim about sugar & wbcs. In fact, it’s biochemically impossible.

    On this years’ flu: this may be the opportunity needed to banish the “Sign of Peace” for good. California dioceses via the media have asked worshippers to refrain from holding/shaking hands during Mass! Norovirus speads that way ,too. Let’s not let this crisis go to waste.

  21. The Masked Chicken says:

    The flu strikes so hard after Christmas because it is the coldest part of the years and people stay indoors and closer together.

    Of course, the best way to avoid the flu is to avoid people. I mentioned people wearing large boxes for clothing a while back. Now, that would keep people from touching.

    Also, a low voltage gamma ray gun aimed at anything you plan to pick up would be good (got to avoid the back-scatter, though). If I weren’t so sure that someone would irradiate themselves, I could become a rich man by selling them out of my trunk.

    May I suggest the return of fashionable arm-length gloves and liederhosen?

    Wearable oxygen tanks.

    The Sign of Peace could be done with eyebrow dancing.

    I’m just full of good ideas, today :)

    The Chicken

  22. VexillaRegis says:

    But dear Chicken,
    how would you eye brow-dance when you don’t have any eye brows? May I instead suggest, that every body at mass shows a sign which says “Peace!” to eachother. Very silent and reverent, don’t you think?

    And, may I ask why you suggest wearing song-pants for Church? What do they look like, I would like to buy a pair of such trousers. They would be nice to have on a bad voice day!

  23. wmeyer says:

    acardnal: Thanks for the link. I wonder whether the stronger shot increases the likelihood of suffering from the shot itself….

    LisaP: Glad I could help!

  24. James Joseph says:

    I do not need to wash my hands. I am a meat-cutter.

  25. daveams says:

    You know you’re a math nerd if: your first thought on seeing this joke is:
    “Wait a second, 0.01% is actually 0.0001!”
    That’s still a lot of germs though.

  26. LisaP. says:


    Here’s a much-referenced study from some years ago:

  27. LisaP. says:

    I also understand there’s a mainstream theory that glucose can substitute for C in cells, including web cells, and diminish their effect pretty drastically, from this guy:

  28. AnnAsher says:

    I have followed Late for Heaven’s plan for 8 years, 8 years no flu shot and 8 years no flu. This year I got the flu shot and the flu – go figure.

  29. The Masked Chicken says:


    You wrote:

    “And, may I ask why you suggest wearing song-pants for Church? What do they look like, I would like to buy a pair of such trousers. They would be nice to have on a bad voice day!”

    I just wanted something comparable to the long gloves for the hands to put on the legs. Liederhosen seemed nice, although it doesn’t really cover as much leg as the gloves. Women can wear the evil leggings. Why evil? I see young women walking around with nothing but them on (on the botyom – top is covered) and it shows the depth of depravity of American culture that one can walk around in public in something that is, essentially, long underwear. I can see them for exercise or dance classes, but in the lab? I have actually have had students show up in lab wearing pajamas! It is alway the women who do this, although I did have two Air Force men who showed up for lab in flight suits, once.

    Kids, today.

    I still think that box clothes could take off as a fashion trend. During flu season, we should all be able to work from home. I don’t know what that would men for burglars, comedians, and musicians, though.

    The Chicken

  30. VexillaRegis says:

    Featherd Friend,

    I agree that leggings are evil, they cover the skin but reveal everything else. Brr. Cardboard box clothes wouldn’t be good for scientists, though, because they need to be able to think outside the box, not inside it ;-P

    Don’t be offended, but may I offer you a lesson in the beautiful native language of our German Shepherd? “Liederhosen” means “songs-breeches” while “Lederhosen” means “leather-breeches”. I’d really like a pair of the first ones if they came with all the wonderful German Lieder repertoire! But one has to get an Austrian pair of Lederhosen – the GERMan ones are sure contagious.

  31. LisaP. says:

    Sorry, that was wb cells (as in white blood cells) not web cells — auto correct went unnoticed!

  32. LisaP. says:

    There is a heartbreaking story about the swine flu vaccine used in Europe several years ago and narcolepsy in children, just out in the last couple days. Definitive connection, they are looking at the “boosters” used.

  33. An American Mother says:

    My five-word description of Bavarians: “Good ol’ boys in Lederhosen.”
    I’d like a pair of Liederhosen too . . . certainly handy for Sunday mornings. :-)

  34. VexillaRegis says:


    heartbreaking. I know one of these teenagers. He’s so terribly tired but can’t sleep properly.

  35. VexillaRegis says:

    AAM, Beyoncee should have had “Liederhosen” on yesterday, don’t you think?

  36. LisaP. says:

    I’m so sorry. I seriously can’t imagine, this seems like such torment, I read the story hoping it was wrong.

  37. VexillaRegis says:

    thank you. Please pray for K. Hes says he doesn’t believe in God anymore because of this disease.

  38. The Masked Chicken says:


    Yeah, yeah, yeah..everybody’s a critic :)

    I was trying to spell it as it sounds and I have always heard it pronounced lieder – hosen, not leder – hosen. I even did a Wikipedia look-up before I posted and thought I saw an i in the spelling :( I feel like Jean-Luc Picard, who at the end of his brainwashing in, Chain of Command, pt. 2, said he saw five lights.

    I figured that since I’ve only seen the hosen referenced with Alpine singers, that they must don this special garment, so lieder seemed right, logically :)


    It has recently been discovered that the influenza virus grows best in humidities less than 50% or at 100%. In the winter, the water saturation of air is very low, so the humidity is very low. This is why the flu is spread so easily during the winter months – the low concentration of water vapor in the atmosphere. Using a humidifier should keep the flu virus at bay, as long as the air does not become saturated (100%).

    The Chicken

  39. VexillaRegis says:

    Here you are: An die Musik, a Lied by Franz Schubert. Sweet dreams, everybody!

  40. LisaP. says:

    VexillaRegis, I did and I will. I’m sorry this has had such an impact on his faith, also. Chronic disease is a cross you never get to put down. I hope that as time passes he will find some peace through God.

  41. LisaP. says:

    I wonder why humidity has an effect. I’m guessing this is an inside phenom?

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