Thursday, 23 September 2010

The Pig is back?

This time last year we were slowly winding down as GPs from the great swine flu PanicDemic that never was. This year we are starting to prepare for one of the greatest public health cons namely that of the annual influenza vaccination program whereby all those vulnerable and at risk patients are offered the 'flu jab.

Already in reception it is like local travel agents at certain times of the year as people are asking if the can book themselves onto the annual hajj for the elderly (which is probably three times bigger than the real Hajj) whereby there is a mass migration on certain days of the year to the place of worship called the GP’s surgery.

Here the pilgrims line up, take a number and freely expose their arms from under their 5 layers of winter warmth to receive their communion with the needle that will provide them with absolution through the winter from all ailments known to man.

Three days later a lot of them will be back saying “The jab didn’t work, I've got 'FLU”. Still all these grateful pilgrims leave behind them a little token of their gratitude to those administering their absolution and, also their fellow patients who follow, in that there is always an unmistakable odour after any flu clinic that lingers for a day or so after.

But enough ranting about the practicalities of mass cons we noted a small article in one of the GP rags which announces the return of the pig.

Did you know that this year’s flu jab contains the deadly, evil, lethal, killer swine flu pandemic virus (H1N1) as one of the viruses it will protect the pilgrims from?

Think of the ethical implications, to tell or not to tell?

Remember all the concern last year about whether it was safe? The concern last year was of Guillian-BarrĂ© syndrome but this year’s concern is, is it linked to narcolepsy? Remember how long it would take to explain the science and what we knew?

Flu clinics are masterpieces of medical mass production and are usually timed with military precision with X patients per minute.

If we say "Do you know the vaccine has swine flu in it?" can you imagine how much extra time that we add to one single immunization attempt?

Well I don’t know. Will it give me swine flu? That kills you doesn’t it? Can I ring my son? Can I ask my friend Mavis? I didn’t want that one last year. I just want the normal flu jab, can I have that instead? If I get flu from the flu jab will it kill me? If I get flu can I have Tamiflu? Can I have Tamiflu just in case?”

And any others we have missed. We can see the lightening speed of your average geriatrics’ central processing unit trying to digest this new piece of information, form a conclusion and plan of action in nanoseconds.

The well oiled engine of the winter flu pilgrimage would splutter to a halt in the same way that your car would if the fuel injection system failed. What would normally take 2 hours will take . . . how long?

Praise be to the Party for keeping this one quiet. What fun we may all have over the ethics and practicality of what this information may unleash. Piggy’s back and that’s not the viral one (yet?).


Anonymous said...

This week i have had to spend a whole morning away from my clinical job to attend training on "immunisation and vaccination training" even though I do not immunise or vaccinate in my role. When I pointed this out I was told that I have to do the training in case they need volunteers to do emergency mass vaccination as they did last year. I pointed out that I would not be volunteering for anyhting that kept me at this PCT for longer than absolutely necessary to earn my wage. It was then pointed out that in the event of a mass outbreak (panic)I would likley be taken away from caring for my ill patients and dragooned into vaccinating/immunising healthy ones!!. What a waste of my time.

Muhammad Shoaib said...

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