Its all about flu you ask!
Its hard to believe that we’re into the flu season again – or rather the flu jabbing season. It seems no time at all since I was scraping the ice off the car last winter. Where did summer go?
This year the flu vaccine will contain H1N1 & H3N2 strains of influenza A and influenza B – ie. as usual there are 3 strains of flu comprising the vaccine. These strains are advised by the world health organisation in February to enable vaccine manufacturers to deliver sufficient supplies in October.
Now, let me be honest with you, I was quite happy to leave our advice with the above comment. But some of my staff pointed out that although I was being quite accurate, I was also being economical with the truth!! I felt that to give more information was actually being less truthful!! I imagine that you’re feeling particularly confused as to what the devil I’m rambling on about – let me explain…
The problem is that H1N1 is also known as ‘swine flu’. Some of my staff felt that we should be absolutely honest that swine flu is one of the components in this year’s flu jab. But I feel that this would inappropriately link the seasonal flu vaccine with last year’s swine flu mess up.
There was so much misinformation regarding that vaccine that it was difficult for patients to understand what was the real truth. When the promised pandemic and melt down of society never occurred many people felt they’d been misled and the whole exercise was part of some greater conspiracy. The reality was that the vaccine was actually safe and effective, there were no risks from thiomersal in the vaccine and that the immunisation plan may well have averted a far worse crisis, even though take up of the vaccine was less than we’d hoped.
So please let me reassure you that this year’s flu vaccine is as safe as any year’s flu vaccine. It does not contain any thiomersal (which is safe anyway). I would strongly recommend that all those patients who we advise should have their seasonal flu should have the vaccine as usual this year.
There is sure to be an enormous outcry in the popular press who will fuel the usual conspiracies theories – no doubt the Daily Mail and the Daily Express will lead with emotive headlines and sensationalist reports.