Anyone but me remember the 1968 flu pandemic?

The 1918 “Spanish flu” pandemic was so severe that it overshadows the other 20th century pandemics. One I remember personally is the 1968 flu pandemic as that particular influenza made me pretty sick. When I mention the 1968 pandemic, though, it seems many people don’t recall it.

Anyone else have memories of it? I was ten and I remember that my body really, really ached. My bed was next to a window and I recall looking out, wishing I felt well enough to go out and play. I also remember my mother telling me that people all over were getting sick from the same thing I had.

That part I’m sure is an accurate memory. I also have memories that are distorted or false. In particular, I remember my mother saying people were calling it the “joint flu” because it made your joints ache. Throughout my life (though practically not at all after menopause, so I’m pretty sure it was hormonal) I’ve had occasional searing pain in one or both hip joints, which I always suspected - completely incorrectly, no doubt - was a lingering aftereffect of the “joint flu.”

Googling “joint flu” returns basically no hits, so I’m quite sure my brain invented that phrase. It was actually known as the “Hong Kong flu.”

I was 17 that year. I recall hearing about the “Hong Kong Flu” but not that it was that big a deal. I may very well have gotten the flu that year, but don’t really recall it one way or the other.

I’m about the same age as CairoCarol. Somebody on this board mentioned the 1968 pandemic a while back and I couldn’t think what it could be, then remembered the Hong Kong flu. But I only knew that as something they talked about on TV when mom was watching the news. I don’t remember life being any different and I don’t think I ever knew anyone who had it. I’m sure I never saw people wear surgical masks everywhere, schools weren’t shut down, and Little League went on as usual.

I had it (was about 14 at the time) and while I can’t remember much about specific symptoms (except a rather nasty fever) I do recall that our entire household (2 parents and 3 siblings) had it at the same time. I have a dim recollection of my family stumbling around like pajama-clad zombies for a week or so.

I remember it, but only because it became a bit of a family legend.

My mum had been very much looking forward to going on her first holiday in years. Especially as it was going to be sans kids. I came down with the 'flu so of course she couldn’t go. Her disappointment hurt me much more than the virus.

Turned out for the best though because two days later she too succumbed and ended up in bed for the duration.


Ditto. If I did get sick, or anybody else in my immediate acquaintance did, I don’t think they got sicker than one would expect to get from the flu.

– there seems to be some conflicting information out there:

I sort of remember it, but it never really hit West Texas hard. Any kid who was feeling nauseous and throwing up was said to have the flu, both in 1968 and in every other year of my childhood, and no single year stands out to me in that regard. But I do remember it being in the news.

I was a junior in college that year. I remember the name “Hong Kong flu” but nothing much about it locally.

I was 14 that year, and remember a great deal about that year. But I only remember the Hong Kong flu as something in the news. I know I didn’t get it.

Exactly what I was going to post.

Edit: I was in San Diego.

I remember it. I missed 10 days of school.

I’m younger than y’all. I remember some stuff from 1968, but not whether I caught the flu that year. I DID catch the flu several times through my school years, including twice one especially bad (for me) year. Catching the flu sucks.

i remember a joke on a tv show from that era where a kid would skip school and write funny notes for himself and one that went "roses are red violets are blue please excuse Epstein for 2 days cause he had the Asian flu "

And I asked dad about it and he said in the late 60s some of the guys in Vietnam japan etc was sick with a really bad flu and it was rumored to come from china and a few brought it home … and it made a lot of people sick over the next couple of years after

Sounds like Welcome Back Kotter.

The Asian Flu was an earlier pandemic in 1957-1958. It was different from the Hong Kong Flu.

Mad had a feature where they put funny captions on news photos. IIRC they ran this one with Khrushchev saying to Mao “So you started the Asian Flu?” and yukking it up.

Yes, I remember the vaccination program in my elementary school. I tried to get the nurse to give it in my right arm, explaining I was left handed, to which she said, “Yes, dear” and gave it in my left arm anyway. This began a needle phobia that lasted me quite a long time.

I would have to check, but I’m pretty sure I got hit with the 1968 “Hong Kong” flu. I was fairly young, and remember being really sick, the first time I remember being so ill that I was just immobile and barley conscious. My mother got it at the same time- and blames me for bringing it home :slight_smile:

These were the days before the 24/7 news cycle. We didn’t hear about stuff unless it was in one of the (at least) two daily newspapers/editions or unless Huntley-Brinkley or Walter Cronkite told us about it. It’s almost impossible to remember that… or imagine it for those who weren’t there. You did not know what was going on every single minute of every day all over the world, not just from news organizations but from every Tom, Dick, and Harriet with a smartphone and a Twitter handle. (Sometimes I long for those days… sigh…)

I was in 4th grade, and was out of school for a week with what my parents told me was the flu. I’d never been out for an entire week before.

Then I lost a couple more days over the next few weeks.

So yeah, I remember it.

Our school even closed down for a few days (like, 2-3 days, I don’t think it was even a full week) as a result of it. Luckily for me, that was a month or so after I’d been sick, so I didn’t waste a perfectly good unexpected break on being sick :D.

I don’t remember that one, but I remember the 1958 H2N2 pandemic because I saw my grandmother taken out of our apartment on a stretcher and the next time I saw her was at her funeral.