Shrugs Over Flu Signal Future Attitudes About Covid
In years like this, when the flu vaccine was minimally effective at best, many were skeptical about the vaccines that are widely available.
Historians say indifference to the flu dates back to at least the 19th century.
Nancy Bristow, chair of the history department at the University of Puget Sound, reviewed newspaper articles and other sources from the late 19th century to the early 20th century and found “a persistent refusal to address the flu as a serious disease.” ”
According to Dr. Bristow, the flu was not frightening “because it was so familiar.
“Before the 1918 pandemic, this disease was not even recorded. People made fun of the flu in ads. One of them, published in the Atlanta Constitution in 1890, read: “Kerchev! Ehyu!-Huh!!! Almost everyone has Grippe in one form or another, and we would like to have Our authority when you buy furniture, carpets, mantels, etc.” (Influenza was once called Grip or Grippe, the French word for influenza.)
An advertisement for the Golden Eagle Clothing Company
Offered a “doctor’s prescription” for a “badly dressed boy” who was “suffering from the flu”. suits for boys. Occasionally, health officials issued warnings. The one that Dr. Bristow found was published in 1916 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It said, “Don’t laugh at the grip. It’s a deadly and dangerous thing.”
Laughter stopped in 1918 when a new strain of flu caused a pandemic with a frightening death rate. But when that pandemic ended, according to Dr. Bristow, complacency resumed. People wanted to leave this terrible period behind.