Justin Lalputan, Broadside Correspondent

Last year, the H1N1 virus, also known as “swine flu,” struck many countries worldwide. Americans especially have been filled with fear since the flu has struck campuses and communities nationwide. However, despite the so-called “imminent danger,” I think it’s time that Americans calmed down and took a logical look at the situation.

Earlier this year, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano confirmed what many had been saying when she announced that, “The severity of the disease, the severity of the flu [and] how sick you get is not stronger than regular seasonal flu.” Essentially, what that means is this: if you’re not at risk to die from the regular flu, then chances are that you’re not going to die from H1N1. However, those whose immune systems are compromised, are above the age of 50, are young children or pregnant should be more careful as both the regular flu and H1N1 could have a significant impact on their health.

People are scared of H1N1 because of what they may have heard from rumors and speculation, but in actuality, in the United States, almost all of those infected with H1N1 have made full recoveries. The worst cases of H1N1 have been in Mexico, where many people have died, but it is completely illogical to compare conditions in Mexico to those in the U.S.

In Mexico, many of the infected did not report their illness until it was too late and sadly, they died. Also, many of those infected in Mexico lived in highly unsanitary conditions with poor nutrition, as opposed to the relatively good conditions found here in the U.S.

So even if you happened to get infected, chances are that you will be just fine; the medical facilities located here in the U.S. are more than adequate to treat H1N1.

Now that the vaccine is being handed out by the government, there is a rush to be the first to obtain it. Though research has been done and the vaccine has been approved by the FDA, it still may be a good idea to wait a while before getting immunized. Despite all the research, you never know what might happen. Also, there are some groups that need the vaccine far more than others: for example, the elderly and the sick need the vaccine more than a healthy person in their twenties does.

Some people think that H1N1 is one of the worst things to happen to the U.S. in a long time, but it has had some positive effects alongside the obviously bad ones. Americans are now improving their personal hygiene, something that can have benefits other than helping to avoid H1N1. Also, there has been an increase in the amount of people who have lined up to receive the seasonal flu shots, a shot which has few, if any, side effects and helps many people maintain their health throughout the flu season.

By itself, H1N1 won’t cause much damage—if everybody remains calm and views the illness with a level head, things will work out for the best. It’s when everyone starts panicking and treating every little cough and sneeze as a sign of the H1N1 virus that bad things start happening.

The human mind can have a powerful effect on the body and if you truly believe that you are sick, you can actually make yourself sick. Mass paranoia is more deadly than H1N1 and while Americans aren’t there yet, if we don’t calm down soon. We could find ourselves faced with a disease far deadlier than H1N1 could ever be.