R.O.A.R.: Baby boomers and the swine flu


Middle-aged baby boomers and the elderly have a new reason for celebrating maturity – we are less susceptible to the H1N1 influenza strain.

Influenza A virus strain of subtype H1N1 was responsible for the 1918 Flu Pandemic that affected half of the world’s population at the time. Most of its victims were healthy young adults, in contrast to most influenza outbreaks, which predominantly affect juvenile, elderly, or otherwise populations with compromised immune systems. The virus kills via a cytokine storm (overreaction of the body’s immune system), which explains its unusually severe nature and the concentrated age profile of its victims. The strong immune systems of young adults ravage the body when exposed to H1N1, whereas the weaker immune systems of children and middle-aged adults cause fewer deaths.

Older people tend to live more settled lives, enjoying home-life, rather than crowding into trendy bars night after night with the twenty-something-year-olds, hence they’re not as likely to come in contact with the virus as are our young adults. Statistically, travel agents are more likely to fall within the Baby Boomer demographic than to any other generation.

Young adults often have feelings of being invincible, thus are more likely to engage in risky behaviors like reckless driving, drug use, drinking out of other peoples’ beverage glasses, or forgetting to keep at distance from other sick people.

Baby boomers can help reduce the spread of swine flu by reminding our young adults how to avoid contact with germs. If the H1N1 outbreak of 2009 becomes a pandemic, it could cause massive deaths; it’s better for baby boomers to be viewed as nags than to see our young adults killed by this virulent flu strain.