Sunday, January 26, 2020

Flu Is Not A Bad Cold

Today a beautiful young woman of only 40, a mother of  five young children, a talented singer and dancer, was laid to rest after succumbing to complications of influenza. The flu.

Deganit Zarum-Glick (Duggi) grew up in Edgware near us. I knew her older sister and brother. Later I met her cousins from Manchester and I shared a flat in Jerusalem with one of them for four years. Thus cementing my friendship with the whole family.

Deganit's mother, affectionately known as Aunty Gitta, came to my father's funeral. She didn't know any of my family apart from myself and she came on the basis of my connection with her family and our friendship on facebook. I will always remember her kindness. I'm only sorry that I couldn't be there for her and all the family today.

Deganit was perfectly healthy, slim and fit. She had access to among the best medical services in the western world and she was indeed hospitalized. It wasn't her health. It wasn't the medical system. It was the flu.

How many times have we heard colleagues say they have the flu when phoning in sick, only to have them return to work a couple of days later almost better? Friends, this is not the flu.

I had real flu once. I died for a week. Then, because I'm a teacher and felt guilty about missing school, I stupidly went back to work the next week. For the next three months the virus was in my body and I basically dragged myself to work, came home and went to bed exhausted. Every day. On the weekends I slept.

After that experience I never misused the flu word. And I made sure I got the flu shot every year it was available.

This is what a quick google search says about flu: Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.

This year there is a particularly virulent strain. "15 people have died of flu complications, including two minors, in a recent flu outbreak that hit Israel with especially aggressive strains. At least 130 people have been hospitalized in serious condition this winter, compared to 45 last winter." The Health MinistryJan 2, 2020

Since then the number of deaths in Israel has risen to about 20.

We had a busy end of year last year and I didn't get round to going for our shots. By January they had run out. Apparently supplying enough vaccines for 20% of the population is usually enough to fulfill the demand. And they sometimes only advise the very young, old, and vulnerable to get vaccinated. But this year they advised everyone to do it and after a number of deaths, people started to get scared.

I still wasn't too worried. I figured that last year's shots would immunize us from some of it. Not so. The nurse told me today that they're only good for six months.

Yes, we saw the nurse today because although I couldn't make it to the funeral in the north of Israel, I could make it to our local clinic and suddenly it became imperative to get our flu vaccines.

Reader, if you haven't already, please please please go and get a flu vaccine.

This post is dedicated to Deganit Zarum-Glick (Duggi) Z"L and written with love for the Glick, Zarum, and Slifkin families.


  1. Thank you, Rachel. I appreciate the love.

    1. My heart is breaking for you Gitta. xxx

    2. I am so very sorry for your loss. This is truly heart breaking. May Hashem give you strength to overcome.

  2. I'm do sorry to hear of the death of Duggi, 40 is indeed far too yiubg. Xx

  3. My deepest sympathies, a tragic loss of a young mum. For all those close I wish long life.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this, ברוך דיין האמת