TBT: The Great Pandemic

Posted October 7th, 2014. No comments

We recently ran across this piece of ephemera in our local history collection. It’s from the 1918 flu pandemic that swept the world. That strain was H1N1, commonly known as swine flu. The secretary of the local Board of Health at the time was Dr. Charles Butt and the president was T. Ervin Wells, the mayor.

It’s interesting that in addition to concerns for the general health of the community, the announcement specifically mentions the threat to coal production. This was a time when longwall mining was widely employed, which meant the workers would be in close quarters with very poor ventilation for hours at a time.

The virus that causes influenza wasn’t indentified until the 1930’s. By the mid-1940’s, the medical community had started testing vaccines on WWII soldiers.

Today the flu vaccine is one of the most widely available. Its makeup changes regularly based on predictions of which virus strands will be most active during any given season. The Centers for Disease Control recommends the vaccine annually for everyone 6 months of age and older.

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