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Keeping a sense of proportion about swine flu

Fergus Walsh | 14:14 UK time, Friday, 31 December 2010

Scary headlines about swine flu can risk distorting the real threat posed by the H1N1 virus. There also seems to be a collective amnesia among many in the media about previous coverage of the virus.

The plain facts are these. So far, 39 people are known to have died with flu since October, the vast majority being infected with the H1N1 virus. That compares with nearly 500 deaths in the 12 months following the arrival of swine flu in April 2009.

That means we have been here before. Remember the media focus on swine flu in Britain in July 2009? It was intense for a few weeks. Then it dropped away.

Strangely, there was comparatively little media interest in the story in autumn 2009, despite there being three times the number of people critically ill than in the summer. I get the impression that many felt we had done enough on swine flu. Indeed there was criticism in the media that the whole issue had been overblown.
Well here we are again.

One key difference now, and it is of concern, is the sharply higher numbers in intensive care. Figures for England show that there are more than 700 people critically ill with suspected flu. That is many times the number last winter. But the level of flu in the community is higher as well. Flu rates vary from year to year so it really should not come as a huge surprise.

About one in five critical care beds (intensive care and high dependency) is taken up with flu cases, but the number of beds could be nearly doubled if necessary.

Dr Bob Winter, president of the Intensive Care Society said: "The majority of those we are seeing in critical care are either pregnant women, people who are overweight - usually spectacularly so, and those with underlying health conditions.

It is easier for us to cope with a big flu outbreak over Christmas and New Year than at any other time. This is because there is less elective (planned) surgery, such as big cancer operations. These account for many of those who are cared for in critical care and these operations do not usually happen at this time of year. So we are under pressure but we are coping."

Several thousand people a year die from the complications of flu, but in the past it was mostly the elderly and infirm. Since the advent of swine flu that changed. Of the 39 people to have died since October, all but one were under 65 and four were under the age of five.

That makes immunisation of at-risk groups, especially those under 65, extremely important.

Twenty-three of those who died were in an at-risk group for vaccination. The Health Protection Agency says where vaccination status is known of those who died, two out of 33 people had received their jab. Last year's pandemic vaccine was received by one person out of 30.

Last night the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said it did not believe that healthy children under five should be given the flu vaccine.

Professor Andrew Hall, chairman of the JCVI said: "The committee considered the issue of offering vaccination to healthy children either 0-4 years and/or 5-15 years of age. However, although there is a high incidence of influenza-like illness currently in these age groups, a significant proportion of this is due to other viruses such as Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). In addition, only a very small proportion of those with severe disease are in these age groups. Based on previous seasonal influenza epidemiology, it would be hoped that influenza circulation will have subsided within a month.

We do not believe that seasonal or pandemic vaccine should be used for these or other healthy person groups. The greatest gain will be achieved in increasing vaccine uptake in the clinical risk groups."

The JCVI urged those with chronic respiratory, neurological, heart and kidney disease, diabetes, the immunosuppressed and pregnant women to get immunised.

What about the rest of the population? Swine flu can strike down, and even kill healthy people - this was demonstrated last year. Fifteen of those who have died since October were not in at-risk groups. Just as in previous winters, flu jabs are available from large pharmacies for those who want to protect themselves from the virus.

But - and I feel like a scratched record here - the majority who get infected with swine flu (other strains are circulating too) will have an unpleasant illness which will resolve itself after a few days in bed, with plenty of fluids and if appropriate, some paracetamol. Another huge group who catch swine flu will show no symptoms at all - lucky them.

So it is worth keeping a sense of proportion about influenza. It has never been something to dismiss as trivial. But it is a sad fact that every winter some people do get seriously ill and even die after catching flu.


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  • 1. At 2:29pm on 31 Dec 2010, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Well put Fergus.

    Oh I do love non commercial media!

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  • 2. At 2:52pm on 31 Dec 2010, Questionsaplenty2 wrote:

    Fergus - I just want to give you a great big hug!!! LOL

    Thank you for your balanced and reassuring reporting on this and thank you for clarifying the overweight issue to "usually spectacularly so" because that really does remove a lot of my fear.

    As I posted at the end of your last article, I do believe there is a hint of evidence in the reduction of increase in the figures both GP reported cases and also numbers in intensive care that suggest we are not far off the peak and certainly by looking at the duration of previous flu epidemics, in a few weeks we will all be looking back at this feeling much happier.

    Thank you again for asking the experts and clarifying the situation regarding the risk to children. It does seem that although H1N1 might be hitting them harder than other flus, the death incidence per year of age is indeed lower than other age groups. I do feel a lot more comfortable that my healthy teens have not been vaccinated at this stage.

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  • 3. At 3:28pm on 31 Dec 2010, kd0983 wrote:

    Good article, although as an Intensive Care Nurse, I think the swine flu epidemic of last year was blown out of propotion, we had no Intensive care patients with H1N1 that did not have serious underlying health conditions (or were pregnant) where I work. This year however the ICU in which I work is under unpresedented strain because of H1N1, and we have many patients who are young (under the age of 45) and have no previous medical problems who are critically ill with suspected or confirmed H1N1. I cant help thinking that the governments lack of interest, lack of media coverage and lack of adverts promoting hygeine and the flu jab my be partially to blame.

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  • 4. At 4:03pm on 31 Dec 2010, plooti wrote:

    Deaer Mr Walsh

    Thank you very much for this information. I had come to similar conclusions myself, from what I had read, and do not feel I am overeacting to the situation but:

    I was concerned that healthy young people had died from swine flu in our area so I asked my GP for vaccinations for my teenage children. This was refused as they are not in at risk groups but it was sugessted that I try a chemist. This worked for my son who is over 16. My other child is under 16 and so could not be protected. I find this illogical. If the NHS only gives the vaccine to high risk groups due to a possible shortage I would completely agree and would never want to take a vaccine from a vulnerable person. But if there is a shortage why are chemists being supplied so they can give them to healthy people? Also if there is a medical reason not to give the vaccine to healthy people why is the chemist doing it? My daughter can't be vaccinated because she is 14 and healthy but as we know healty young people have died. I just don't want her to end up in intensive care or die from a preventable disease.

    I would be grateful for your comments on this matter.

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  • 5. At 4:15pm on 31 Dec 2010, Mummytofour wrote:

    I am hoping that you can help? I am a mother of four aged 7, 6, 4 and 18 months and in a real state of panic. None of the family have any underlying health problems that we are aware of but I am wondering whether I should have us all privately vaccinated? Is the vaccine safe and is it wise??? Any comments would be really appreciated.

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  • 6. At 4:45pm on 31 Dec 2010, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Mummytofour, yes it's safe. Within a few hours you will be bombarded with people claiming the most bizarre statistics and opinions on the vaccine, but at the end of the day, its given to tens and tens of millions of people every single year, with essentially zero negative effects. There is no big pharma conspiracy to make everyone sick with a flu shot. And if there is, they are doing an awful job since I know hundreds of people who've had flu shots with no negative impact!

    Plooti, there is no medical reason not to give it to healthy people, it's just not a necessity, and should be a secondary objective, after the elderly, sick and very young are vaccinated, since they are at more risk of a severe bout of flu. There may be a shortage at GP surgeries, where the vaccine is intended for people with underlying health conditions and the elderly, I don't know as I'm no logistics analyst for GP surgery stocks. What I do know is that the chemists and supermarkets are given their own batches, which they purchase and then sell on to the public for a small profit. So they will have their own stocks separate from the government stockpile.

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  • 7. At 4:49pm on 31 Dec 2010, Questionsaplenty2 wrote:

    Mummytofour, I can't give you vaccine advice apart from begging your doctor and asking what he thinks, but I can say the following.

    I know its worrying - I have health anxiety and worry about health stuff a lot. Fergus's article using an excellent phrase "sense of proportion". i think finally it is sinking in for me.

    It helps me to number crunch. During the previous waves of this H1N1 epidemic we are told approximately 500 people died. That is out of a population of approx 62,000,000 so that is chances of 1 in 128000 people or 0.001% of the population and a huge proportion of those had underlying causes. Its incredibly sad when it does happen, but its very rare. Also this time round it is unlikely to be anything like that number because we have antivirals available, many schools have herd immunity anyway and we are no longer waiting for vaccines for the vulnerable :) We also pretty much know this will be over soon :)

    Being an anxious Mum, personally as I am a worryholic, I'd probably just stay away from the toy-chewing toddler groups for the next month or so as that is probably the most virulent age group this time round.

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  • 8. At 4:51pm on 31 Dec 2010, Questionsaplenty2 wrote:

    Also wanted to add, if you can't get your healthy children vaccinated, it may hold them in good stead for the future anyway; if this virus returns in say 10 years time in another form as they will have the best chances of immunity in a similar way to that which the over 65s seem to have today.

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  • 9. At 5:56pm on 31 Dec 2010, BluesBerry wrote:

    So, you don't consider the number of people requiring intensive care treatment for flu having risen to 738 (according to the Department of Health) as a cause for serious concern?
    I mean one week ago, this statistic rested at 460. I concede that both statistics include those who are suspected of having flu as well as confirmed cases.
    The latest number (738) includes 42 children under the age of five in intensive care units.
    Apparently, Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, has changed his mind and will launch a jab campaign "Catch it, Bin it, Kill it." (Not the best of titles I don;t think.) Shadow Health Secretary, John Healey had accused Andrew Lansley of "a serious misjudgment" because he had axed the autumn advertising campaign about the need for people to get jabbed.
    A spokesperson for the Department of Health: "We are very clear about those who need to be called for vaccination and we have asked GP surgeries who have the lists of individuals to contact them.
    Mr Lansley's U-Turn came in response to the latest figures from the Health Protection Agency which show that 39 people have died of flu since October: 36 of them from swine flu.
    The figure includes 12 deaths in the past week. All but one of the deaths were people aged under 65, and four of them were under five.
    The Royal College of General Practitioners announced that cases of flu rose by more than 40% in England & Wales last week. It said the number reached 124 per 100,000 of the population week ending December 26th. However, this is still not an epidemic, which experts define as 200 cases per 100,000.

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  • 10. At 6:43pm on 31 Dec 2010, prb1 wrote:

    some of you may have seen this before

    its quite funny and informative


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  • 11. At 7:27pm on 31 Dec 2010, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Informative? Swine flu wasn't "made in a lab" I hope you realize this. Influenza naturally changes and mutates, it always has and it always will.

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  • 12. At 7:39pm on 31 Dec 2010, Londonmum wrote:

    Dear Plooti and Mumtofour,

    i am a mother of two healthy children aged 4 and 2 and have given them both the flu jab (both seasonal and the swine flu jab when it was offered during the pandemic). This year i gave them the seasonal flu jab privately without any problems. Plooti, i did an internet research for private clinics in london (where i am) offering the jab and rang them. Some will offer it for children under the age of 16 and some will not. The one i use i have been using for myself and my husband for a few years and a private GP gives the jabs to the children. The vaccine is safe, or at least it has been safe for both children and i do not regret given them. I have taken the flu jab yearly for many years and never had any problems either. I was tense before giving the swine flu jab to them but thought i was even more tense with the prospect of having to see them suffer with the disease.... It is a decision you have to make, I made mine and now i am much more relaxed about them going on about their normal lives.

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  • 13. At 7:48pm on 31 Dec 2010, John wrote:

    I've had swine flu. It was hell for over a week. Not a few days. It started on monday before christmas and only recently do I feel able to actually get up and do something. I'm 48 and normally healthy. I can understand how people die of it. I have had so much paracetamol/lemsip and other stuff and all it did was alleviate the symptoms so I could sleep. Don't underestimate the effect it has on people.

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  • 14. At 7:59pm on 31 Dec 2010, SkylineOnFire wrote:


    It's very different for everyone. Over a quarter of all people who catch it, don't even show any symptoms whatsoever. Sounds like you had a horrid time with it though, you have my sympathies.

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  • 15. At 8:32pm on 31 Dec 2010, sylwebydd wrote:

    ".... but the number of beds could be nearly doubled if necessary." Really? What is your source for this? I'd be surprised if this is really the case. ITU beds are limited by mechanical resources (ventilators, monitors), space and availability of skilled staff, all of which are in short supply. Also, don't forget that ITU staff also get flu, making staff shortages even more acute. Additionally, although ITUs can struggle through reasonably well for a week or two by cancelling non-urgent operations that require ITU admission, eg cardiac and vascular surgery, it doesn't take long for these cancelled operations to become more urgent and then these patients will compete with the flu patients for ITU beds.

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  • 16. At 8:34pm on 31 Dec 2010, angelscomeinthrees wrote:

    I have absolutely no expertise whatsoever but I think that there could be several contibutory factors as to why so many people are ending up with complications. The first is that I think we had become complacent. I'm afraid I agree that the scrapping of the awareness programme both for vaccination and hygiene procedures was incredibly stupid just because it gave the impression that flu was and is nothing to worry about, which is never the case even just for seasonal flu. But it hasn't just been the government; since the summer our GP's surgery has removed the bottle of sanistiser gel from beside the booking-in screen (hateful thing) and as of Christmas Eve it wasn't back. Message: that nasty flu thing is gone and hygiene doesn't matter any more.

    Also the cold must be playing a part; the paedetrician at the hospital laid the blame for all the babies in with breathing problems squarely at the door of the cold weather. And heating is costing such a lot this year; I know many people have been rationing their heating or not switching it on at all. I get so angry about the winter fuel allowance; my relations use theirs to fund a weekend break and yet vulnerable young families and people with cancer cannot afford even basic heating. It is time this was paid according to need and not age.

    Another thing with heating is that where I live we have no mains gas and families have been unable to get hold of heating oil for weeks at a time; our neighbour had no heating for a fortnight in the run-up to Christmas.

    Our local paper has printed advice about flu from our local health trust and according to this most people with sf admitted to hospital with complications last year in this area were pregnant or under 65 with underlying health issues.

    I am concerned about sf because I feel so much for those affected, but I'm not panicking about it. As for getting a jab in London, I think we'd be more likely to pick up something awful on the train going down!

    I've had mastisis and felt like I was dying; my husband has had seasonal flu where he couldn't make it out of bed to go to the bathroom. Whatever it was that the kids and my other half had over Xmas was very unpleasant and they are all still feeling the effects of it, but I count our blessings that we are all at home together for New Year.

    Have a good one, everyone, thanks again to Skyliner and to Fergus and speedy recovery to all who are under the weather.

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  • 17. At 9:48pm on 31 Dec 2010, Grey Animal wrote:

    The increased use of ITU facilities this time round doesn't necessarily mean that the flu strains this year are any more dangerous.

    ITU facilities may have been underutilised for flu cases last year; it may be the experience gained last year that has meant that people seriously ill with flu are getting admitted to ITU more promptly this year.

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  • 18. At 10:04pm on 31 Dec 2010, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Grey Animal,

    Exactly, that could be why we are seeing so little deaths in comparison to how many cases there are comapred to last year. The case fatality ratio of swine flu this year has dropped even more, it's puzzling, and your theory is the probably answer as to why if you ask me. The virus itself is no more dangerous whatsoever, its an identical strain.

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  • 19. At 10:16pm on 31 Dec 2010, junior wrote:

    I seem to remember that Fergus hadnt done his H1N1 homework with the initial " Mexican " Swine" Flu .And did not remind us that each year the Flu jab is H3N2+ H1N1+ Btype ( for good measure ) but SORRY I just do my job WITH Flu and dont DIS-inform

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  • 20. At 10:42pm on 31 Dec 2010, carlymumto4 wrote:

    hi Fergus and everyone, this recent info really reassures me, I am not one who would normally panic over these things but out of four children i have two with type 1 diabetes and one has cystic fibrosis and i have to tell you flu scares the shit out of me! i have noticed a lingering flu type illness in the village we live and before xmas the local school was rife. My children,including the healthy one have been unwell since october with what i would think was flu and just kept going! they were admitted to hospital over 7 times between them. I think everybody shouldnt freak out but should we really be so complacent?

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  • 21. At 10:43pm on 31 Dec 2010, TheWalrus999 wrote:

    Exactly right.
    Perhaps you should tell the news editors who have been presenting this as a scare story.

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  • 22. At 10:46pm on 31 Dec 2010, SkylineOnFire wrote:


    Care to elaborate on what you mean?

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  • 23. At 10:47pm on 31 Dec 2010, DrTeeth wrote:

    To those with healthy children who are panicking; they are MUCH more likely to die from choking whist eating or going down the stairs than from 'flu. The worried well should just stop worrying.

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  • 24. At 10:54pm on 31 Dec 2010, Karen wrote:

    Dear all

    Being a mum for the first time to our daughter of two years, we today made the decision to give her the swine flu jab, she was refused the seasonal flu jab due to her age & having new underlying conditions (at least not that we know of)....I'm really worried whether this will be enough as there's been lots of media coverage of a number of flus not just swine flu - would u say this would be enough? Reading another comment I'm now wondering whether to pay privately for this...

    Also being a healthy mum should i consider having the seasonal flu jab as well?

    Hearing so many horrendous stories & with my mother dying when I was only four really puts the fear into me.

    Any advice greatly appreciatef

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  • 25. At 11:16pm on 31 Dec 2010, Tinkerbellbobby3 wrote:

    Thank you Fergus. That article was just what the stretched Dr ordered.
    Happy New Year to you and thanks again for this blog.
    The rates of flu this year are still nothing compared to 1999/2000 and I dont recall that winter getting much coverage and I would have remembered as I was pregnant and a lot of pregnant women died that winter if I am correct.
    I read an interesting article in the Guardian today where a DR was quoted as saying hospitals are generally full now as there are lots of falls in the winter due to ice etc and also lots of illness that causes breathing problems anyway not because of SF
    The media has a lot to answer for. I am sure papers like the DM are the reason people are panicking now and rushing for the jab, along with hearing about the amount of numbers in intensive care. I also read in the article that the numbers should start peaking next week and then gradually start going down.
    Dr Teeth - Its a parents job to worry. Cant be helped. X

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  • 26. At 11:17pm on 31 Dec 2010, Donald MacIntyre wrote:

    People die from flu, every year, a tradgedy for each family in every case.'39 since October' and '500 in the last 12 months' (= 43 / month). Meanwhile on the roads about 10 deaths every day! Not counting serious injiuries. Let's get real for heavens sake.

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  • 27. At 11:32pm on 31 Dec 2010, firebird2110 wrote:

    If you're worried about flu why not start taking a good multi-vitamin with adequate levels of vitamin D? There is a good case to be made that the seasonal nature of flu is at least partly due to the lack of UVb during the winter months and a subsequent drop in Vitamin D levels in our bodies. It's a cheap, easy to access measure which isn't going to do you any harm.

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  • 28. At 11:36pm on 31 Dec 2010, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Karen, you say you have made the decision to give her the swine flu jab, has she already had this? As there is no dedicated swine flu jab this year as far as I'm aware, it's just the seasonal flu shot which contains protection from swine flu, amongst other strains.

    oap1, Well said.

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  • 29. At 11:46pm on 31 Dec 2010, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Firebird, whilst vitamin D is absolutely necessary for our bodies, and has many many health benefits, it's often touted as "cure for influenza" As the swine flu outbreak last year shows, which peaked in summer, it can happen at any time of the year, it's just far more common in winter for obvious reasons.

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  • 30. At 11:51pm on 31 Dec 2010, Karen wrote:

    Dear skyline

    Yes she's had it today - our local surgery were urging childen under five to have the swine flu jab if they've not already had it - our nurse informed me that she's not in the 'at risk' category therefore not entitled to the seasonal flu jab!

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  • 31. At 11:59pm on 31 Dec 2010, Don54 wrote:

    Get vaccinated as soon as you can.

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  • 32. At 00:01am on 01 Jan 2011, Tinkerbellbobby3 wrote:

    The hospitals/GP's Out of hours, are they still seeing the under 5's as a matter of course if SF is suspected. Last year when my 3 year old had a temp, it was a sat morning and they told me to bring her straight in because of her age. Is this still the case?
    Regarding the headline - sense of proportion - lol - yes thats whats needed esp when we are all sat here on NYE discussing it. Happy New Year all. Stay safe and well X

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  • 33. At 00:10am on 01 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Tinkerbell, I'm currently here going over maps of the Italian alps and writing down endless coordinates for our next filming trip in 2 weeks time, because I'm lazy and should've got this done weeks ago, so no parties for me!

    Karen, she's had the seasonal flu jab then, since that covers swine flu and the other circulating strains, there is no individual swine flu jab this year I dont believe.

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  • 34. At 00:18am on 01 Jan 2011, Tinkerbellbobby3 wrote:

    Let you off then Skyline. lol.
    Ive got my two monkeys, and am babysitting and hubby at work, so am not as sad as i look.

    Anyway, no more waffling. Keep posting Skyline. X

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  • 35. At 00:20am on 01 Jan 2011, Karen wrote:

    Hi skyline,
    I'm told it was swine flu only, although hope it was the combined!

    Thank you

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  • 36. At 00:22am on 01 Jan 2011, Michael wrote:

    The main concern about swine flu is the effect on children and pregnant women who have not been vaccinated. While it is true that many people die every year of flu, we have become much more concerned in recent years about unecessary death, as in the public reaction to the soldiers killed in Afghanistan, also a relatively "small" number compared with previous wars. There should be far more effort to vaccinate at risk groups.

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  • 37. At 00:40am on 01 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Karen, either way she's had a useful shot, since swine flu is by far the dominant strain this year, and is also the one most likely to cause more severe illness in kids, so dont worry too much :) I'd say dont worry at all, but your a parent and I've been informed numerous times by mine that parents never stop worrying!

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  • 38. At 00:45am on 01 Jan 2011, chizu wrote:

    I'm 76 and my wife 70. We have both been laid up with severe flu for over a week and only now up and about and getting back to normal. Although we both have chronic coughs.
    We've not had any jabs as we have heard nothing from the local GPs in the Primary Care Trust about any vacinnation programme. From reading here I guess some GPs have been doing it. We are not sure whether we are classed as vunerable or not. Now we have had the flu should we consider having jabs, or is it too late?

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  • 39. At 00:59am on 01 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Chizu, based on your age, it's quite possible/probable that it wasn't actually swine flu, and was another seasonal strain. There of course is a chance it was swine flu, there is no way of knowing without testing, so yes I definitely recommend the jabs, as you can catch several different strains in one flu season, and that would be positively awful.

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  • 40. At 00:59am on 01 Jan 2011, twistywillow wrote:

    I am glad you have summed this outbreak up in laymans terms. It makes sense, even to the average gutter press reader!
    We had 'a' flu go through the family 3 weeks ago. Since we had 'suspected' swine flu last autumn, I wasnt overly worried, until my daughter hit 40c for two days, but even then, she got better, suddenly, I almost had to chain her down to stop going off to school!A far cry from how ill she was last autumn(09)
    She and I have had our flu jabs. The second daughter didnt have it so bad but took longer to feel well again, and the third was poorly with a temp and slept alot. Husband had a 'touch' of it and worked through it claiming he didnt have time to be ill despite having a temp. I was flu free, but ended up with the same cough as everyone else, which as I am asthmatic, surprise surprise went to my chest and needed antibiotics over the Christmas week.
    I assume this was normal flu, it was no where near as bad as last years and my daughter recovered so quickly without medical intervention.
    I dont understand why people wont have the vaccine.. its flawed logic to say I might get flu if I have the vaccine.. what rot. Sometimes I do think the human race is given too much info!
    If you havent had the vaccine, and get flu to the point of being incapacitated for heavens sakes get the vaccine! Its cheaper than spending days, weeks in ICU and then moaning about the state of the NHS as a result of you not receiving 5star hotel service by doctors and nurses run off their feet! So, if you are a tax payer, and care about the UK and the NHS and people around you GET THE JAB!
    Happy New Year :-)

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  • 41. At 01:54am on 01 Jan 2011, BiffSmith wrote:

    As a specialist reg in emergency medicine, I have some advice: If you are unsure as to whether you are in an 'at risk' group for flu/swine flu, contact your GP and, if necessary, get the flu vaccine. We must, however, remain level-headed and remember that there are deaths from seasonal flu; and that 'swine flu' is no more lethal than any other strain of influenza.

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  • 42. At 03:11am on 01 Jan 2011, Sutara wrote:

    It's also rather important to keep a sense of balance about vaccinations and anti-viral treatments.

    Let's be a bit truthful here. We in the UK aren't the greatest at hygiene. I mean in some healthcare settings, it has taken years of banging on about MRSA and C dificile to persuade some health professionals to even wash their hands between examining different patients.

    And look how long it has taken to get adequate basic hygiene in hospital and clinic cleaning. Colour-coded mops and buckets for different areas, and other similar basic procedures and processes only happened after significant numbers of people fell victim to MRSA and the like.

    In food production and catering, we see again and again in the news, the same old poor hygiene problems causing outbreaks of one kind or other of "food poisoning". Basic cross-contamination, poor hygiene, maverick practices, poor food storage, food prepared too far in advance.

    In just how many supermarket / train station / reastaurant toilets can you watch people going to the loo and then not washing their hands, or not using soap, or perhaps drying their hands on their jeans because the hand dryers are ineffective? How about the workplace loos that ought to have soap / toilet rolls / paper towels in them all the time but often don't.

    One personal hate of mine is the TV chef who dips his finger into his sauces to taste them. Where was his hand just before that? On the cutting board, the pan or spoon handle, the outside of some jar or pack? It sure as hell wasn't in some wonderously sterile environment free of all potenitial contaminants. (And that same chef would probably summarily sack on the spot any sous-chef who did similarly in any professional kitchen that he was running). But some people learn from such T.V. examples that it's O.K. to do that sort of thing.

    How often does the person preparing your sandwiches / rolls at lunch-time in the sandwich shop handle money with the same hand (often even with the same glove on) that s/he's making your food with? After all, pound coins are perfectly sterile, aren't they?

    And on, and on, and on.

    To be honest, flu pandemics are always going to be a risk to us in the UK because we don't really take hygiene all that seriously. We don't have a general awareness of how bacteria can and do spread and multiply and even less of an idea about what viruses do.

    If we invested in significantly more basic hygiene awareness training - i.e. education programmes in schools, colleges and workplaces - then there would be a lot less infectious disease around and that would include the various strains of flu.

    And levels of personal, cultural and occupational hygiene is just one of the variables you need to consider when making comparisons between different nations and how they have dealt with flu outbreaks.

    Whatever the 'ins' and 'outs' of vaccinations and Tamiflu and the rest, there are real things people can do to prevent the spread of disease, including flu, through better hygiene practices and better understanding of why these are so relevant. And - as the old saying goes - prevention is better than cure.

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  • 43. At 06:24am on 01 Jan 2011, ordinaryali wrote:

    I am a GP in London and think this article is excellent. The information is accurate and there is a refreshing lack of hype.
    Thought I would clarify a couple of points.
    First, GPs are commissioned by the government to vaccinate the high risk groups. These are the elderly and those with chronic diseases because they are the people most likely to end up in intensive care and the government consider it cost effective to do so. We order enough vaccine to supply these people almost a year ahead. We COULD vaccinate everybody, but the cost would be enormous and this decision would need to be taken a year ahead so we could increase our order in time for it to be supplied.The added benefit to society as a whole would be relatively small and the government do not feel this is cost effective.
    Second, pharmacists can order as much as they like but must stick to a protocol for safe delivery and this might exclude children.
    Third, a private doctor, either GP or paediatrician can vaccinate healthy children if they wish and there are some clinics which offer this service.It is entirely safe to do so, and the vaccine would give a high degree of protection to that individual.

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  • 44. At 09:13am on 01 Jan 2011, angelscomeinthrees wrote:

    Ordinaryali, my children will get the jab through our GP (if there is any vaccine left by the time they are well enough to have it), but would it be practical for those of us who don't live close to any private clinics to be able to purchase vaccines privately for administration at our surgeries? Is it my imagination or do some people pay for travel vaccinations that are given by GP surgeries? If supermarkets can profit then maybe GP practices could too, with the proviso that the money goes back into patient care.

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  • 45. At 09:41am on 01 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    Several points arise from this - a well constructed article in lots of ways - that need to be pointed out.
    Firstly, 1 in 30 people were vaccinated, yet 2 in 33 died who had been vaccinated. Ergo, vaccines don't work.
    Vaccines have been a scam from the day that Jenner plucked his theory out of the air and the politicians of the day jumped on the money-making bandwagon.
    Secondly, 39 deaths? Why is that being mourned? It should be celebrated if official claims are to be believed. Over 8000 people die annually from flu in the UK according to the official scare story, so by now we should have seen around 4000 people dying from flu.
    However, the flu figures are completely false and inflated at least 100-fold BECAUSE THE VACCINE IS IMPORTANT TO BIG PHARMA! Vaccines are the Holy Grail of the drug industry. They are the only drugs that can be given to millions of people who don't need them. With all of the other drugs you at least need to be a little bit sick before you take them!
    It is critical to cash flow that seasonal vaccines are hyped up with scare stories to maximise the uptake.
    If you look at the figures for the US, they routinely state that 35,000 people die from flu every year, but that includes everything from pneumonia to pleurisy and very little to do with flu - on average less than 1000 die from flu, but don't let the facts get in the way of a good profit opportunity!
    Look back over SARS, bird flu and swine flu over recent years - all of which were "going to wipe out vast numbers of humans" - and look at how much of OUR money was spent on drugs that were completely unnecessary and you can see how gullible our governments are. Either they are in on the scam, or they leave their brains at the door when the latest scare story is released through some drug-funded University in Sweden and disseminated by an even more gullible media in the UK as fact.

    Vaccines? No thank you. I'll pass on that one and go about my daily routine of supporting my immune system, rather than compromising it... and I won't waste any of YOUR money doing that. Oh, and don't bother with rubbish like Lemsip either, it does nothing to help. Do proper research and stop buying into the BigPharma paradigm where paradise is where everyone is just sick enough not to risk dying... only healthy or dead people avoid being customers in their world.
    Happy new year to everyone... with some exceptions.

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  • 46. At 09:54am on 01 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    Oh, and one other point: if the vaccine os so effective, why have the official flu figures not varied since vaccines were introduced?
    Whichever way you want to look at it, the public is brainwashed into believing that vaccines are not only desirable but essential to human life. So why would that be? There is only one motivation that can drive this and that is money.
    In the US, there are some 40+ mandated vaccines, it varies state to state, whereby anyone refusing to be vaccinated, or have their children vaccinated, can be summarily incarcerated and forcibly injected - at least we haven't got to that stage yet!
    The most interesting statistic, however, is that the top 10 drug companies in the Fortune 500 list make more money than all the other 490 put together... I wonder why?
    If I could force you into paying for something you didn't need, no doubt you would want to report me to the police, well in the US it's the other way around, they'll report you if you don't take it... is that the perfect business model? After all, there's another one born every minute!

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  • 47. At 12:52pm on 01 Jan 2011, Chloe-in-france wrote:

    BigPharma: thanks for injecting (pun intended!) a balanced argument into the debate. I was beginning to feel outgunned and very much in the minority for opting out of the vaccination. It's a shame that so many sceptical arguments are tinged with conspiracy theories and branded with quackery when there is actually quite a lot of commonsense involved. Did you notice that when the article says 2 people who died had been vaccinated it also said "where vaccination status is known", in other words more of them may have had the jab. . .
    In this day and age is it so implausible that certain powerful businesses could put profit before welfare? Who really believes that corruption doesn't happen?

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  • 48. At 1:30pm on 01 Jan 2011, angelscomeinthrees wrote:

    Last week I bought Vitamin D supplements for myself, multivits for the kids and a well-known brand of elderberry extract for all of us. This came to over £100. On reading the label of the elderberry I've found that one bottle will barely give my three children two days' worth of 'winter dosage'. I can't afford to buy more than I have already.

    It is little wonder that the majority of people opt for what is 'free' at the point of use - their only other option is to do nothing. Next year I will try to make my own elderberry rob but even that will cost me in bottles and sugar.

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  • 49. At 2:40pm on 01 Jan 2011, haufdeed wrote:

    46. At 09:54am on 01 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    Two great posts, BigPharma, I am with you 100%, but a bit wasted on this forum, where hysteria, hypochondria and gullibility are the keywords. Reading this forum has made me understand why the NHS costs all of us a fortune. A monstrous stitch-up between the medical profession and the Pharmaceutical industry, both preying on the weak minded by generating scare stories year after year. How much was squandered on Tamiflu last year? And where did all that money end up? These are questions that will never be answered, or indeed asked, on this forum.

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  • 50. At 4:37pm on 01 Jan 2011, AlreadyHadIt wrote:

    @42. At 03:11am on 01 Jan 2011, Sutara wrote: A lot of good stuff that made lots of sense.

    Sutara, you are correct, but you missed out those who cough and sneeze, in public onto the public they pass even though they have been told and told and told, repeatedly, for *decades*, about not spreading diseases.
    Anyone remember "coughs and sneezes spread diseases"? I'm too young to have seen it live, but I've seen documentaries.
    I work in a very large room full of IT kit, keyboards, mice, screens and such. This barn of a place is filled with people, many of whom are ill. None of whom (apart from me) has ever encountered the technology called "handkerchief". Tissues are apparently a technology beyond their mental grasp. So they spread droplets of spittle and phlegm all over the keyboards and mice and desks and chairs and screens and into the air, which circulates round and round and round.
    Pointedly handing them a tissue is taken as rude.
    I'm in a very at risk group, recovering from a by-pass, so those revolting bags of infected pus could *kill* me. But handing them a tissue is seen as rude.
    Worse: some of them take the idiotic "precaution" of sneezing into their hands. They don't then wipe those with disinfectant-impregnated tissues. They wipe them on their *clothes*. Then immediately use the mice, keyboards and other kit.
    Yet handing those idiots a tissue is seen as rude.
    They are doing the equivalent of chucking live grenades into the room, with full knowledge of the effect of their actions, yet handing them a tissue is seen as rude.
    I had SF last year. I got something flu-ish this year. I'm just getting over it. I still feel like a flounder somebody trod on and left for dead, but I had to come in to work.
    I'm a generous, warm and giving person, and I'd hate for all my colleagues to miss out on this flu experience...
    Truthfully, I'm almost certainly no longer a danger to them. Though, if they have a strain I've yet to encounter, they still could be to me.
    I'm just hoping they all have the same flu.
    And how likely is that?

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  • 51. At 4:53pm on 01 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    You are to be commended for not buying into the system that looks after itself first and patients last.
    The only person that has 100% of YOUR interests at heart is YOU. If you have the wit and the wisdom to do the research and not to believe the adverts that BigPharma spends millions on then you have a much better chance of staying out of their clutches.
    I did write another post earlier but that got moderated out... maybe because I mentioned that the 1939 Cancer Act prevents cures being found.
    Treatments are the name of the game, not cures... no money in cures.
    I don't 'do' conspiracy theories, but I do believe in looking beyond what is frequently, and glibly, presented as fact. It's amazing what you can find when you've got an open mind.

    Angels, if you want to do the best for yourself and your children, don't waste money on too many supplements. Vitamin D3, min 2500iU would be the best money you can spend at the moment, along with 1000mg Vitamin C and a decent diet free from additives and preservatives.

    Haufdeed, I don't mind wasting a bit of time but if even one person starts to think a little more for themselves then it is worthwhile. The biggest threat to human survival comes from what we eat and what we are given to combat the problems that come out of the food factories. Both are mega-industries and neither care about what happens to us.

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  • 52. At 8:14pm on 01 Jan 2011, Sutara wrote:


    It's like I said .. and on, and on, and on.

    We just don't really collectively do particularly good hygiene in the UK. For sure, various individuals and groups are pretty good at it, but there are plenty of people, groups, organisations, companies, retailers, service providers, etc., etc., who aren't.

    Another one of my groans is about a supermarket which I visit regularly in which the gents pulbic loo has something like 3 W.C.s, four urinals, four sinks ... yet one hand dryer. Net result - many users don't bother to wash their hands as they can't be bothered to wait for the hand dyer. They then presumably walk around the supermarket picking up items with their unwashed hands all around the place.

    Oh and there's the other supermarket where I have twice been glad that I had some tissue in my pockets as there was no toilet paper in the W.C. That can't be good for hygiene or public health either.

    Oh and the hospital that geared up for its 'inspection' with the Chief Operating Officer and Lead Nurse, etc all barking instructions to staff to make sure everything on the wards was spick and span. Ironically, though, in their management corridor, the loo's the staff used were in quite poor condition. But that's o.k. because only staff used them ... staff that would then go onto wards and walk around all over the place.

    I just think if there was more education about how to restrict the multiplication and transmission of both bacteria and viruses, then these situations just would not arise in these many and various situations because they would be seen as against a generally pervailing culture within society of being hygienic.

    And because many just don't appreciate these things, many managers and supervisors don't bother to ensure the people in their organisations do hygienic things or even things hygienically.

    For sure, add in the computer keyboards and phone handsets - especially the 'hot-desking ones' - which are never cleaned or wiped with anti-bacterial or anti-viral cleaners. And on, and on, and on.

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  • 53. At 8:19pm on 01 Jan 2011, Sutara wrote:


    Do we presume that from the way you repeatedly bang on about the advantages of excessive doses of D3, about which other posters on this forum have already expressed serious concern, that you have some financial interest in this product? Perhaps that is why you don't want people to have the vaccine - then they'll be more likely to buy what you are selling or have some monetary interest in?

    I'm a great believer in the old adage that all behaviour IS communication and can't help but feel that yours suggests an additional agenda of some sort.

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  • 54. At 8:28pm on 01 Jan 2011, Sutara wrote:


    I was wondering, if it is known, to what degree are these flu viruses communicable through food. Obviously they are not "food poisoning" per se, but surely they can be 'food-bourne'?

    According to the TV adverts, we should seemingly beware of men in lifts sneezing on the buttons, but should we not also be trying to ensure poor hygiene practices in kitchen and food preparation factories are not causing the spread of these flu infections?

    Perhaps some celebrity TV chef should do a programme focussed on the basics of hygienic cooking practices - which we all presume everyone knows, but which clearly some people don't.

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  • 55. At 9:06pm on 01 Jan 2011, Questionsaplenty2 wrote:

    I totally do not understand people claiming vaccines don't work. We are repeatedly told they are 80-90% effective so of course there will be some cases when they don't.

    My pharmacist told me that if I had a fever/ temperature at the time of vaccination, it would be less likely to be effective. This may be the reason for the rare cases that have been vaccinated that still had serious swine flu. I really would like to know whether those specific cases were actually people with serious problems already, ie with weakened immune systems that the vaccine may find it hard to protect - chances are they were!

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  • 56. At 9:14pm on 01 Jan 2011, arthur00 wrote:

    @ BigPharma - you keep arguing that the Pharma companies are money grabbing etc however i note you keep mentioning supplements - who makes money from these? The vitamin industry is also worth millions. I'm just saying...
    If you don't have any (chronic) illnesses and eat right your body shouldn't need supplements.

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  • 57. At 9:33pm on 01 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:


    I'm not 100 percent sure on this, I've never even thought of it before in any depth. If say a chef who was infectious with swine flu, sneezed on a salad, which was then taken straight out to you, then I can imagine that being an issue yes, as an influenza virus can, under ideal conditions, live on a cold hard surface for 24 hours. If the same chef was merely breathing around your food whilst making it, and hadn't touched it with his hands after touching his nose or mouth, then its doubtful. Also, if the food was cooked even lightly, it would kill off the virus.

    I wont even bother trying to dispute "big pharma" or anyone like that, it's quite frankly not worth the time. No facts, no base whatsoever for the claims, statistically insane, its just not worth paying attention to and I hope the vast majority of you can see that.

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  • 58. At 9:37pm on 01 Jan 2011, arthur00 wrote:

    @ questionsaplenty2 - interesting what you say about your pharmacist. I was told to wait a week until i'd finished my course of antibiotics and got the all healthy tick from my GP before having the vaccination. I've just recovered from flu (suspected swine flu) which developed into a lung infection.
    Also, those two poor souls who died even though they did have the vaccination - likely they were in the at risk groups and not a private patient...or they may have caught it just after being vaccinated - apparently it take up to 2 weeks for the vaccination begins protecting you.

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  • 59. At 10:05pm on 01 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Arthur, the jab takes around seven days to produce partial immunity, and two to three weeks for full protection.

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  • 60. At 10:05pm on 01 Jan 2011, Tinkerbellbobby3 wrote:

    Haufdeed - I find your comments insulting to say the least. Are you saying that everyone who takes up a vaccination is an idiot?
    The public have the right to choose and quite frankly it is because of people who post on these forums who de-nounce anything to do with vaccinations as to why so many people have not been immunised. How qualified are you to tell people not to take up a jab? Your posts may have consequences, please, what are your credentials, because to be honest, I would rather take advice from my GP than an anon blogger.
    I am sick and tired of reading patronsing comments re Big Pharma and how we are all so stupid to buy into this rubbish. Well for your information, a lot of us DO read up and investigate and ponder for and against vaccinations. Thats why a lot of us are here. I am also sick of reading about Vit D and the wonders of it like it cures all ills. My cousin is currently on a drug trial as he has leukemia, these drugs are brand new but will keep him alive for the next 15 years without him having to have a bone marrow transplant.
    Perhaps I should call him, tell him to ditch the drugs and get on the Vit D.
    Seriously, you people do not know you are born. Without the medical profession, you prob wouldnt be here. We all know about Big Pharma and what it means, but honestly, give it a rest and stop insulting the rest of us for wanting to protect our children.

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  • 61. At 10:13pm on 01 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    At the end of the day I guess if vaccines don't work, just like "big pharma" and co have been saying in this thread....

    I guess smallpox, diphtheria and polio just went away by themselves didn't they...

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  • 62. At 10:35pm on 01 Jan 2011, Tinkerbellbobby3 wrote:

    Well the comment that "Jenner plucked his theory out of the air" says it all really. ??????

    Good job we do not all rely on eating healthily alone to keep everyone alive, else we'd all be dead.

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  • 63. At 10:45pm on 01 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    Sutara, I have to presume that you are suffering from some form of pre-cognition... either that or you're stuck in some sort of a loop.
    "Do we presume that from the way you repeatedly bang on about the advantages of excessive doses of D3, about which other posters on this forum have already expressed serious concern, that you have some financial interest in this product?"
    Apart from being incredibly naive and rude, you are also incredibly wrong. At this time of year, anyone living north of 35 degrees WILL be deficient in Vitamin D.
    I don't suppose that you've noticed but there has been plenty in the news recently of advice emanating from several government advisors that Vitamin D supplementation is acknowledged as essential. If you don't know what Vitamin stands for it is VItal Amines - VITAL... not advisory or maybe a good idea.
    As for excessive doses... being clueless doesn't help you. 20 mins summer sun exposure on a mediterranean beach will produce 20,000 IU so me suggesting that 2500 IU would only be called excessive by a) a pharmaceutical rep, or b) someone who doesn't have the first idea of what they are talking about.

    @Arthur00: "however i note you keep mentioning supplements - who makes money from these? The vitamin industry is also worth millions."
    The supplement industry is piffling compared with the drugs industry.

    The biggest retailer in the UK is Holland & Barrett. Their turnover was £173million in 2005, £39 million profit. Pretty good going I'd say. They're the latest figures I could find quickly.
    In comparison, the biggest drugs company, Glaxo, in their "UK healthcare division" alone have a turnover of £250 million.
    Now if you want to compare eggs with eggs... they made £1.5 billion ... yes, BILLION ... out of the flu pandemic vaccines in just 6 months.
    They turnover around £30 BILLION a year and spend round £7 billion a year on advertising alone. They give £8 billion to their shareholders and you do what is so predictable and bleat about people making money out of supplements!
    They absolutely dwarf H&B, yet how many more health food chains can you name? Now try the same with other big drug companies and you'll come up with a substantial list.

    All businesses have to make profits to stay in business. Some are ethical some aren't. Some make good supplements, some make cheap rubbish that makes urine strange colours.

    Please note that I suggested that Angels should not spend loads of money on supplements and there's no point in routinely supplementing when it isn't necessary, but there's always one, or in this case, two people who can't read because their personal red mist descended and fogged their respective brains.

    I don't sell supplements, I don't have any shares or financial interest in ANY company other than either mine or my wife's, neither of which are involved in health in any way shape or form.

    If you don't like what I say then that's fine, it's your right to do so, but next time you are wondering why the NHS has run out of money you might want to consider that OUR government spent £500 million on Tamiflu (Roche, not Glaxo) alone that didn't get used and would never have done any good and are in the process of wasting £5 billion on flu vaccines. That's £80 for every man woman and child in this country.

    Feel better now that you know that they are looking after you so well by spending so much money on you?

    On the question of vaccines "protecting people"... they don't. The idea of a vaccine is that it forewarns your immune system so that it recognises a virus when it enters the body. The vaccine of itself does nothing.

    And as for the question of viruses living *in food*... that's laughable. Viruses can only survive for around 24 hours outside a host body. It has to replicate and it needs a complete set of amino acids to do that. You don't find that in dead or cooked food. Viruses also cannot survive above temperatures of 104 deg F, 40 deg C, so cooking anything will automatically destroy any virus that might be hanging around - and that may also help you understand how your body kills off the viruses: by inducing a fever. The effect of the increased heat seals the telomere at the end of a virus and prevents it from separating. Once it cannot separate it cannot replicate. Your body knows what to do... so in what way do you think that REDUCING THE FEVER (as many drugs/cold remedies are designed to try and do!) is going to help you defeat a virus???

    Oh, and as for SkylineonFire, no doubt his or her favourite hobby is fiddling while Rome burns, very appropriate for someone who hasn't got a clue. If you want to take me on then please feel free to do so. I have a far greater understanding than you will ever have.

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  • 64. At 10:53pm on 01 Jan 2011, Tinkerbellbobby3 wrote:

    On the question of vaccines "protecting people"... they don't. The idea of a vaccine is that it forewarns your immune system so that it recognises a virus when it enters the body. The vaccine of itself does nothing.

    This is well known and how vaccines work, what is your point here?

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  • 65. At 10:55pm on 01 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    Fergus wrote:
    Figures for England show that there are more than 700 people critically ill with suspected flu.

    So how does that compare with the 8000 that routinely supposedly die from flu EVERY year? Again, only 700 people critically ill "with flu" must be one hell of a bonus... or maybe the 8000 deaths each year are just totally bogus because that should be 700 people DYING EVERY SINGLE MONTH FROM FLU! And THAT is the basis for frightening people into having the vaccines.

    Maybe SkylineonFire can explain that statistically insane problem for me? Or maybe we won't hear from him or her again on this subject?
    Let me offer you this: those who make the claims in favour of vaccination claimed that 750,000 ADDITIONAL deaths were expected in 2009 from swine flu, and dear old Professor John Oxford claimed 150 MILLION people worldwide would die from it! The WHO backed him to the hilt with the pandemic level warnings and it was all smoke and mirrors.
    All that money wasted... unless you're a vaccine manufacturer of course. Nice work if you can get it and had your conscience taken out at birth.

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  • 66. At 10:58pm on 01 Jan 2011, Tinkerbellbobby3 wrote:

    Also, it is well known that reducing the fever is not going to help defeat a virus and that the fever is your bodies way of fighting it off. But many parents give calpol and go through the motions of reducing fever due to concerns of possible convulsions if a fever gets too high. Advice has changed from when I was little, where my parents were told to strip us down and put us in front of a fan, now we are told to keep cold air circulating in the room and for the child not to get too cold.
    People know this, I dont think you give them enough credit.

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  • 67. At 11:01pm on 01 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Oh boy! This is going to be fun!

    1. You state, and I quote "20 mins summer sun exposure on a mediterranean beach will produce 20,000 IU" Wrong. This is a Lie. Vitamin D toxicity doesn't occur from exposure from the sun. This is because after around 20 minutes of ultraviolet exposure in Europeans (light skinned) the concentrations reach an equilibrium, and any further Vitamin D is degraded. Whereas taking it orally, the insides of your body don't have this same "shut off point" and toxicity can occur.

    2. You don't pick up 20,000 IU in a DAY let alone 20 minutes in sunlight. The figure for direct sunlight is around 10,000 IU a day. Another lie. Well... Lie or mistake, I'll let you choose.

    3. The biggest retailer in the UK is Tesco. Not Holland and Barrett. Holland and Barrett aren't even close to being the biggest retailer, another lie.

    Shall I continue? I'd advise you to watch your tone, you really don't know who knows what on this board do you... You've either lied an awful lot, or made many many mistakes.

    If you have anymore input, feel free! I cant wait to read it my friend.

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  • 68. At 11:03pm on 01 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Oh and Big Pharma please, lets keep this polite and friendly yes?

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  • 69. At 11:05pm on 01 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    Tinkerbellbobby3 wrote:
    Well the comment that "Jenner plucked his theory out of the air" says it all really. ??????

    Good job we do not all rely on eating healthily alone to keep everyone alive, else we'd all be dead.

    Amazing that we managed 100,000 years without vaccines then!

    Smallpox was not eliminated by vaccination. Do a search on Dr Hadwen and vaccination fraud if you can stand to have your "truths" undermined.

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  • 70. At 11:12pm on 01 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Big Pharma, post 65.

    Please don't make this personal, just keep it friendly. And as for that statistic I'm as baffled as you as to why it's such a huge media event, based on the fact far less die from swine flu than from the "seasonal strains" One has to assume that its because swine flu tends to go for people under 65, and can be very severe in younger people, very rarely of course but it does happen.

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  • 71. At 11:15pm on 01 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Oh and one other point, it wasn't smoke and mirrors to declare a pandemic, since influenza can mutate, and initially there was no idea how virulent, stable and contagious the virus was. Swine flu technically meets the official requirements for a pandemic anyway.

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  • 72. At 11:17pm on 01 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    We did manage 100,000 years without vaccines yes. Hence why the Bubonic plague killed 30-60 percent of Europe's population in two years (1348-1350)

    I challenge you to find me any sources whatsoever that state smallpox wasn't eliminated via vaccines. I also ask you, what happened to smallpox if it wasn't eliminated via vaccine? Did it just vanish?

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  • 73. At 11:22pm on 01 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    Okay Skyline, be nice. But don't attempt to dismiss me out of hand again.
    The facts are straightforward.
    In June 2009 ALL tests for swine flu were suspended and EVERY ENQUIRY where flu was mentioned it was PRESUMED and ASSUMED that swine flu was involved. This was a necessity to maintain the scare and justify the ridiculous expenditure... as well as GoBro pretending the HE was in charge of the UK end of the presumptuously confirmed global pandemic!
    It was lots of people running around like headless chickens spending money like we had loads to spare... right in the middle of the biggest financial crisis for 80 years!

    The whole thing has been blown up out of incredible proportions because the lies were exposed and a lot of backsides had to be covered. Flu, seasonal or otherwise, does not and never has killed 8000 people a year, and if it had, are we to believe that less than 40 of those 8000 were under the age of 65?
    Come on, it's not difficult to see what has been going on here!

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  • 74. At 11:26pm on 01 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Oh and one more thing BigPharma. I've been here since the beginning of all this swine flu business, back in may 2009. We share quite a few opinions I'm guessing, i.e that it's not a particularly virulent virus for most, that the media has hyped it up significantly etc...

    I've always been here to help reassure the regulars, as a lot of people here suffer from health anxiety, something I've been through myself. And I find explaining the statistic in an easy to grasp, logical way, helps people feel a little better about the situation. So please don't mock the way I do that, it helps a lot of people here, and contains nothing but facts and figures, none of my opinions whatsoever.

    I'm well aware of the benefits of vitamin D, and of a healthy lifestyle. But I'm also well aware of the benefits of vaccination, from smallpox to influenza to tetanus. These vaccines have saved countless lives. Anyway...

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  • 75. At 11:29pm on 01 Jan 2011, angelscomeinthrees wrote:

    I am profoundly grateful for the allopathic medicine that has saved the lives of two of my children and that made life a great deal better for my children when they have been sick. At the same time I am also grateful for the natural medicines that nature provides and I think there needs to be a balance between the two. Not least diet - we really are what we eat.

    BigPharma, thank you for your advice - I have limited my dosage of VitD to 1000iu thingies because I feel comfortable with that and am giving the kids multivits because they need the other stuff that is in them as they aren't eating well yet. I've gone for black elderberry extract because there does seem to be some good science to back it up. Incidentally, elder is known to be the witches plant and to destroy them is said to bring bad luck - my guess is that this superstition was created around the need of the wisewoman to protect what was at the time the 'medicine chest' of the common people.

    That said, thank Goddess for Calpol and penicillin! I spent much of the week before Christmas watching my son crying in pain with a drip in his arm because the heat from his body fighting the virus he'd caught had made him dehydrated. My younger daughter has had fits when her body has become too hot. Yes, temperature is important (as the nurse who treated my daughter on Christmas Eve reminded us) but not bringing it down at all can be very dangerous. (Agree re lemsip though - just go for honey, lemon and rosehip tea bags myself).

    There has been a huge amount of criticism on ths blog in the past over both the flu line and the dishing out of tamiflu like smarties. I'm not sure there has been very much said in favour of its liberal use at all.

    Haufdeed, there is a difference between hypochondria and living with chronic health conditions - or caring for those who do. Those of us who have or have had fears for our loved ones often base them on experience rather than fantasy. Having feared for the lives of my children on more than one occasion and seem them really suffer from 'mild viral illnesses' I think I am entitled to worrying about the possibility that we may go through it all again - and my kids don't really have any major health issues, they just seem to be unlucky.

    Sutara, hand hygiene in this country is a joke. Chip and pin, cash points...urggh. Three times on Thursday I had to sign for parcels with those minging little electronic pen things - at least I could wash my hands immediately afterwards, unlike at the shops.

    Oh, and air hand driers just suck up fecal material, warm it up a bit and then blast it out over your hands. Nice.

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  • 76. At 11:33pm on 01 Jan 2011, angelscomeinthrees wrote:

    Exactly, Tinkerbell, current advice for temperature management is to strip a child off but give them a light cover of some kind; have a fan circulating; and avoid the old-fashioned cold bath/sponging. In my experience temperature needs to be reduced slightly to avoid dehydration but if a virus is that severe no amount of paracetamol and nurofen will touch the temp that goes with it.

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  • 77. At 11:35pm on 01 Jan 2011, Tinkerbellbobby3 wrote:

    Ok, but quality of life and life expectancy was not what it is now.

    I have read that information before, but I do not think you can compare what was founded by Jenner then in the 1800's as to the technology they have today.

    I have read for and against all, I have debated about the MMR (My husband is an expert in Autism,the conclusions from that particular Dr were not safe) I have read about the vaccinations in 1918 and how they believed a lot of the illness then was from vaccinations and not influenza. My friend in school became paralysed after his BCG.

    I worried over the sf vaccination last year, but my children caught it before they had the letter from the GP. As it happened I had cancelled my daughters MMR Booster as my eldest daughter had been ill and I figured if my youngest has her jab for MMR and then gets swine flu, the GP will put it down to her vaccination. Lucky I cancelled as five days later she got sick with secondary infection.

    No one has all the answers. We can only go on advice, some choose a different path. All I know is that without the medical profession I wouldnt have some members of my family with me today and for that I am eternally grateful. Everyone I read against Big Pharma who are not for vaccinations, never seem to have any opinion on other drugs that save lives regularly. Would you take antibiotics?

    The politics and the money surrounding the drugs industry has a lot to answer for, God knows where NICE got its name. But please stop branding us all stupid for not denying ourselves and our children health care. And if we all relied on Vit D and eating healthily to get us through life, there would be far less of us to shout about it.

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  • 78. At 11:37pm on 01 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    Tesco v H&B!
    Oh dear, we weren't talking about general retail... we were talking about supplements. If you REALLY want to distort what I write then there's no point in discussing anything at all with you.

    My point on D3 was that your body WILL produce far more than the 2500 IU that I suggested. I didn't say all year round either.
    Don't accuse me of lying or making mistakes when you can't be bothered to read properly or, even worse, think about what I've written.

    As for your rebuttal that the body cannot produce 20000 IU Vit D in a day... then try this

    Where is your source of information for your rebuttal? Or is it just something "that you know"?

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  • 79. At 11:44pm on 01 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    Skyline wrote:
    I challenge you to find me any sources whatsoever that state smallpox wasn't eliminated via vaccines. I also ask you, what happened to smallpox if it wasn't eliminated via vaccine? Did it just vanish?


    Again, go to "hadwen vaccination fraud". It's all there. Dr Hadwen was in the thick of it, not someone writing a hundred years after the event.

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  • 80. At 11:46pm on 01 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Post 73 Big Pharma.

    In the 1918 flu pandemic it didn't just kill 8000 in a season, it killed as many as 250,000.

    The daily mail headlines sure do blow swine flu out of proportion, agreed. They may of quit individual testing early on in the pandemic, but what's the point in keeping it going when everyone is going down with influenza, in the summer? It was bound to be swine flu.

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  • 81. At 11:49pm on 01 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Post 78 Big Pharma,

    The body will produce more than 2500 in sunlight yes, but nowhere near the figure you stated, half that in fact.

    As for the link, they are selling high dose vitamin D supplements, of course they will pad it with false statistics. Do you have any peer reviewed journals or anything to support your claims?

    And as for the biggest retail dispute, yes, it was in poor taste, my apologies for that.

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  • 82. At 11:50pm on 01 Jan 2011, Tinkerbellbobby3 wrote:

    Its all about keeping them comfortable isnt it Angel? Its common sense. I know that cooling my child and bringing her temp down isnt fighting the virus, but we know from their behaviour that they generally feel better in themselves and happier for that short period when they are cooler. I dont know if bringing the temp down prolongs the illness, I dont think there has been any major study on it, from what I have seen, but if you can make your loved one more at ease while getting better, then why not?

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  • 83. At 11:50pm on 01 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    And I was in Mexico when it "broke out", about 800 miles from it on the Pacific coast, but within hours people were walking about in masks, Americans were panicking and returning home, 60% of the people who were supposed to be arriving the following week cancelled their holidays, it was absolutely ridiculous!
    I then went to China and witnessed the crazy panic there as well, it's subsided now but you'd think that aliens had landed at the borders!

    As for how did diptheria and smallpox "disappear"? Living conditions improved massively by clean water and sewage disposal being dealt with. If you take away the terrain the diseases cannot proliferate. Even Pasteur recognised that on his death bed after a lifetime of pushing his germ theory... but then he couldn't make any more money when he was dying so the need to keep up the pretence was unnecessary.

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  • 84. At 11:51pm on 01 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Post 79, Big Pharma,

    What do you feel happened to smallpox, if it wasn't vaccines that eradicated it.

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  • 85. At 11:54pm on 01 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    post 83 big pharma,

    Ignore my post 84 your message hadn't cleared by the time I posted it.

    living conditions in huge swathes of Africa are no different, if not worse, than they were in 1900, yet there is no smallpox anymore is there? It's not sanitation and clean water that prevents smallpox.

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  • 86. At 00:04am on 02 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    Hmm, you ask for peer reviewed studies in how much a Vit D a body can produce? Is that a joke? Have there been any? You are the one disputing my figures! You provide the peer reviewed studies for your claims!
    I take 5000 IU a day during the winter months and have been very satisfied with the results. I don't remember to take it every day, I'm not fanatical about it and I'm certainly not concerned about it.
    Rickets has been making a comeback recently... what would you prefer? A vaccine or a supplement? We were not born drug deficient, but most people are nutritionally deficient from birth... a balanced diet cannot put right deficiencies.

    As for: Would I take anti-biotics? No.
    I had a kidney infection last year, I was expected to go to the doctor to get the pills, but I didn't. Anti-biotics kill ALL bacteria in your digestive system and that's where 80% of your immune system resides.
    I took three specific supplements and got rid of it in 48 hours with no side effects.
    Would I share that information with anyone else? No. I take responsibility for my own actions. If anyone else wants to do the same then they have to do the same.
    I would only take prescription drugs in the direst emergency and then only as an adjunct to the other resources I would employ.

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  • 87. At 00:07am on 02 Jan 2011, Tinkerbellbobby3 wrote:

    Ive been looking at the smallpox death rates - there is a lot of contradictory info out there. That was a long time ago and surely it cannot be compared to 2010 as this was the start of a long process where medical technology was concerned. What about the measles vaccination? In Wales the year before last we had large clusters of measles outbreaks as people had been too scared to get their children vaccinated and it resulted in a lot of children being admitted to hospital. Surely, even though there are doubts re this vaccination, ( I read two twins died recently after being immunised) you cant argue that measles is still doing the rounds, or would measles have gone away on its own like everything else also?

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  • 88. At 00:10am on 02 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    In the 1918 flu pandemic it didn't just kill 8000 in a season, it killed as many as 250,000.

    There were many reasons why there was a pandemic in 1918 and the death figures have been more than doubled in the last two years!

    For 90 years it was "generally accepted" that 20 million died worldwide, but there are no accurate statistics to back up even that claim, but at the height of the SF scam last year that figure was mysteriously being touted as 40 million and then in October the figure was ramped up yet again to 50 million!!!
    Did they suddenly find a mass grave with 30 million bodies in it and a sign over it that said "Spanish Flu Woz 'Ere!"?

    If you look at Wikipedia you will even find that that figure has been inflated to a possible 100 million!

    Too many lies and too much money involved.

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  • 89. At 00:12am on 02 Jan 2011, Tinkerbellbobby3 wrote:

    Just to clarify, I think debate is good. I just get a little concerned regarding posters telling others not to vaccinate. I think you should provide links with information where people can go to make up their own minds.
    I saw a forum the other day where one woman was advising a pregnant lady not under any circumstances to get a SF vaccination and that also, when the lady had had her baby, to consider not immunising the baby at all for anything.
    The lady who was pregnant had listened to all of this information and agreed that this was the best way forward.
    This is a very dangerous practice and I just think we should all be a bit more careful. We never know who we are influencing with our posts.

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  • 90. At 00:13am on 02 Jan 2011, angelscomeinthrees wrote:

    # 82, Yes, absolutely, Tinkerbell. When their temps come down - and the pain of, say, a sore throat is relieved a bit - then they will drink and maybe even eat a little. Fluids are vital and food helps to find the strength to fight whatever the bug may be.

    I believe that there was a small study from the 1920s or 30s that showed that children who didn't have their temp brought down had a better long-term outcome - but presumably the methods used to bring down temps would have included extremely cold baths etc. Certainly most practitioners agree that getting a temp down a bit is a good idea. But, to quote the nurse that looked after my girl last week, 'don't get too hung up about temperatures, it is how the body fights bug and we've done it for thousands of years.'

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  • 91. At 00:17am on 02 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    Skyline.. you still drinking?
    "but what's the point in keeping it going when everyone is going down with influenza, in the summer? It was bound to be swine flu."

    Less than 3% of cases sent to the labs for testing showed up as SF! Joe Public was panicked into reporting every sniffle going and that provided the drug companies (and the useful idiots in the media!) with all the ammunition they needed to make it run and run. At that point, immediately after the WHO declared their mythical pandemic level 5, the government suspended testing because they could not afford for the figures to be so badly undermined by the real results being broadcast.
    Most people read headlines and not the story, let alone do any deep research, so the majority would buy into the BS and take a week off work when their noses ran for half an hour!
    I personally know of 5 people who used it as an excuse to "throw a sicky". Pathetic really.

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  • 92. At 00:26am on 02 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    Measles has hardly killed anyone in the last 100 years. It was no longer a killer long before the vaccine was introduced.
    Last year one poor kid died, supposedly from measles, but that was so spurious to be farcical. He contracted measles in hospital and was already at death's door when he caught it!

    Sorry, measles really is not a problem and certainly not worth vaccinating against.
    Most children have sufficient natural immunity (especially if breast-fed) to be able to deal with it. The whole idea of an effective immune system is NOT to NEVER get sick, but to be able to deal with a problem should it arise. To expect never to be sick is totally unrealistic and a utopian ideal. what the drug companies offer is THEIR dystopian alternative.

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  • 93. At 00:27am on 02 Jan 2011, Tinkerbellbobby3 wrote:

    Did the Dr tell you you had a kidney infection? Why would you not share the information regarding what you took? You are quite happy to tell people not to use vaccinations but you wont share your alternatives?
    Have you got children? would you take that risk with your children or with someone you loved?
    Glad to see you would resort to drugs in an emergency, lets hope you never have to.
    We are lucky to have antibiotics, they say in 1918, 90% of people died from secondary infections.

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  • 94. At 00:29am on 02 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    I had measles when I was young, so did all of my family. It was no big deal, just a few days of itching and it was done. It was all part of growing up. Nowadays the hysteria that is induced when someone gets measles, including those who've been vaccinated, is so stupid that kids go to hospital! What a waste of resources that is!

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  • 95. At 00:39am on 02 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    I haven't told anyone not to get vaccinated. I have simply shown that money is the motivation behind the push for them and that statistically and medically they do very little and have potential to do more harm than good.
    You do your own research and come up with your own views on it.
    I stated way above in post 51:
    I don't mind wasting a bit of time but if even one person starts to think a little more for themselves then it is worthwhile.

    I have nothing to gain from influencing people one way or the other, other than cutting down on the country's NHS waste which we all pay for.
    Freedom is in the mind... if you don't use yours then someone else owns you.

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  • 96. At 00:43am on 02 Jan 2011, Tinkerbellbobby3 wrote:

    * 91. I remember last year a lady posted on here saying that SF wasnt a farce and that her daughter had died from it.

    Whatever is said about it after all, real people are affected by it and there were 70 children dead from it last year. I dont care if those numbers stack up for you or not really, its still 70 children.
    Money isnt always so important, I hope the vaccination works for people, if it costs 2 or three grand a shot, it doesnt matter as long as it works and saves someones life. We will have to wait and see.

    Its academic now anyway. Its too late for a lot of people to get it and the peak is almost over.

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  • 97. At 00:45am on 02 Jan 2011, Tinkerbellbobby3 wrote:

    I had measles too when I was little but they didnt put me in hospital for the sake of it and I dont think they do now either.

    Anyway, its been interesting talking to you. The debate will go on all winter I guess.

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  • 98. At 00:53am on 02 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    Tinkerbellbobby3 wrote:
    Did the Dr tell you you had a kidney infection? Why would you not share the information regarding what you took? You are quite happy to tell people not to use vaccinations but you wont share your alternatives?
    Have you got children? would you take that risk with your children or with someone you loved?


    Doctor? Yes. But my doctor is well aware that I only go to see him when I want information, not treatment.
    Why should I tell you what I did? Most people don't take responsibility for themselves because they are taught that is the doctor's job! So I certainly wouldn't take responsibility for someone I didn't know. It is highly unlikely that you would take any notice anyway as I'm not a doctor :-)
    Sorry, but that really is a vicious circle. Doctors know nothing about nutrition and regularly dole out drugs for nutritional problems so why should I listen to them on issues I can handle?
    I have spent the last 15 years researching and studying and subsequently applying that knowledge. If I attempt to share it I would risk prosecution and I'm not stupid. Hence I simply advise EVERYONE to do their own research. If they can't be bothered then they'll have to take the drugs the doctor dishes out.

    I'm done here. I've spent far more time than I ever intended to.
    All good fun for me and if I've lifted a few lids then so much the better.

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  • 99. At 01:08am on 02 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    "Whatever is said about it after all, real people are affected by it and there were 70 children dead from it last year. I dont care if those numbers stack up for you or not really, its still 70 children. "

    True. real people make for emotive discussions. It personalises the statistics. 3% doesn't mean a lot when it is 100% of one that you love.

    However, again, I have to say "Where is the list of children that supposedly die from flu EVERY YEAR?" I accept that a few people, including children died from it. That is always going to happen. Virtually all had underlying conditions and the death was ATTRIBUTED to SF BECAUSE IT WAS PRESENT IN THE BODY. That DOES NOT mean that it was SF that was the cause of death, it just happened to be written on the death certificate.

    I lived with illness and death for many years, it isn't nice and it is something that prompted me to look for alternatives because I witnessed first-hand the destruction meted out in the name of modern medicine. I am more than happy to use my knowledge and experience to help others, but the responsibility will never be mine. If I choose to take probiotics instead of antibiotics (among other very important things) then it is me who pays the price if things don't work out. Doctors, on the other hand, dish out things every day that they know will harm their patients because that is the nature of the job that they do. They bury their mistakes. I will never be one of them.

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  • 100. At 01:37am on 02 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    One last post on this:
    In response to Skyline's request for further verification of vitamin D production, have a look at THIS link:

    Especially note these comments:

    The single most important fact anyone needs to know about vitamin D is how much nature supplies if we behave naturally, e.g., go into the sun. Humans make ***at least 10,000 units of vitamin D within 30 minutes of full body exposure to the sun***, what is called a minimal erythemal dose. Vitamin D production in the skin occurs within minutes and is already maximized before your skin turns pink.

    (That somewhat torpedoes the silly suggestion that it would take a whole day in the sun to produce 10000 units!
    I have seen all sorts of figures, this particular one is among the lower end. And this site doesn't sell supplements either so we can forget that spurious argument.)


    Animal data indicates signs of toxicity can occur with ingestion of 0.5 mg/kg (20,000 IU/kg ), while the oral LD50 (the dose it takes to kill half the animals) for cholecalciferol in dogs is about 88 mg/kg, or 3,520,000 IU/kg. This would be equivalent to a 110-pound adult taking 176,000,000 IU or ***440,000 of the 400 unit cholecalciferol capsules.***!!!

    *** = my emphasis added
    So why on earth would I worry about taking 5000 IU a day? 176 million IU? Yeah, sure, I'm worried every time I take one capsule!

    No lies. No mistakes. Just a far better understanding of the topic than you sir.

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  • 101. At 02:19am on 02 Jan 2011, twistywillow wrote:

    61. At 10:13pm on 01 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:
    At the end of the day I guess if vaccines don't work, just like "big pharma" and co have been saying in this thread....

    I guess smallpox, diphtheria and polio just went away by themselves didn't they...
    Agree with SkylineOnFire...
    your comment saved me from trying to say the same thing but way more succinctly put. I thank you!
    Me thinks someone has a hidden agenda!
    Personally I couldnt give a toss about multi vits or drug companies etc, vaccines do work, and I for one know I would not be here without them. As for the vits, they have never made one iota of difference to me or my health, just my bank balance.

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  • 102. At 08:57am on 02 Jan 2011, angelscomeinthrees wrote:

    Just a quick word about supplements. I would have hads my kids vaccinated with this years' flu jab but had a reaction to it myself and had to cancel their appt. as I was too unwell to look after them. They then got ill and so I hadn't been able to rearrange it. Now it's almost certainly too late.

    I am interested to see how taking vitD affects me as I tend to pick up a lot of bugs, being around children a great deal. Most of these bugs will be mild and also most of them will be things I can't get vaccinated against, even if I wanted to. As for the children, they have been very unwell and still haven't recovered their appetites, so multivits are needed at the moment. I've also chosen a supplement containing minerals including iron, because my children don't eat meat and I am aware that two of them do not eat enough non-meat iron sources. My younger daughter had been anaemic as a toddler and I saw her transform before my eyes after she was prescribed iron. It does need to be used with caution in the very young, but my lot are older now.

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  • 103. At 09:13am on 02 Jan 2011, Chloe-in-france wrote:

    Well, the debate has certainly hotted up but it's clear that most people remain in favour of vaccination - and fair enough, it's a personal decision. However, I realise how difficult it must be when you have to make decisions for your loved ones.
    However, the other side is worth considering, even if you choose to reject the argument. In France many doctors have additional homeopathic training (while others are totally opposed to it) and, according to our local pharmacist, lots of her customers rely on natural and homepathic remedies in preference to being vaccinated against flu. Homeopathic remedies are available on prescription as well as vitamin D supplements. So not everyone agrees that vaccination is the solution.
    All the same, there is media hype here to encourage people to be vaccinated.
    Although it's not directly related to the vaccine discussion I'd like to point out that drug companies have been responsible for producing extremely harmful drugs in the past, which haven't been withdrawn until many people were damaged or worse. This begs the question of how effective the research is before releasing a new drug for doctors to prescribe in all good faith. For example, when we were still in England our GP prescribed an anti-inflammatory painkiller for my husband saying he could take up to four a day. When we moved here our French doctor refused to let him have any more and sent him to a urologist to check his kidneys. The specialist confirmed her fears - he does have kidney damage and is absolutely forbidden to take any more of these tablets - even though they are the only ones that really dull the pain.
    Nearly all drugs have side effects and sometimes you have to take more drugs to deal with the side effects so, my policy is to avoid medication unless it is absolutely necessary.
    Like BigPharma I'm not qualified to offer specific advice on treating other peoples' illnesses but I think we have a right to express our opinions on this forum which, after all, is meant for debate.
    I think Angels is a wise mum who obviously thinks carefully about her decisions and makes use of everything at her disposal. Hope your children are all better now and may 2011 bring good health and happiness to everyone (whichever methods you choose to use!)

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  • 104. At 09:44am on 02 Jan 2011, jon112dk wrote:

    I fully agree with what Fergus is saying, the trick here is keeping a sense of proportion - this is serious enough that it calls for action, not panic.

    It would be interesting to see a (genuinely) independent health economics evaluation of the situation.

    Tory government scraps vaccination advertising campaign to save a few quid. What effect did this have on uptake? If any effect, how many additional cases/critical care admissions/deaths did this result in? Have the grubby, money saving actions of a non-clnician actually saved money, or cost money?

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  • 105. At 10:30am on 02 Jan 2011, Sutara wrote:

    I think people need to be very careful with these subjects.

    Not all sources of information on the web are reliable, or published for the good of the general public. Much information on the web has a commercial, political or perhaps just fanaticist reason for being there.

    I certainly have seen profoundly stupid advice on certain web-sites including those which recommended people should take significantly carcinogenic substances as a cure for cancer and abandon the treatments offered to them by the medical profession.

    But then, I've also seen over-zealous religious groups advise patients with serious mental health issues to throw away their medications and "Trust in the Lord" for a cure. Which resulted, highly predictably, in the patient relapsing into a psychotic episode.

    We also need to keep our thinking very clear. There are the subtleties of terms. Do you want a 'popular' treatment, or one that is effective? Humans are pack animals and can be very influenced by what they perceive the rest of the pack is doing.

    For sure, many people rely on various treatments for various ailments, but is that the same as saying those are effective treatments?

    One powerful factor in medicating people is that people take comfort in a perceived cure. To what degree do many painkillers actually work and to what degree do they work because the person taking them believes they will work?

    Your body does teach itself to react to experiences. So, you get headaches when you withdraw from caffiene suddenly but still drink de-caf coffee. It's because your body knows you're taking in coffee and prepares itself for the caffiene hit, but that hit doesn't actually happen.

    So while it is nice to try to keep conversations about disease and treatments reasonably clinical, the fact is that these issues exist within emotional, psychological and social settings.

    Which is why, in my view, we really must try to avoid a "one size fits all" approach to them.

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  • 106. At 1:13pm on 02 Jan 2011, richf wrote:

    Can someone tell whether an under five who was vaccinated last year (2009), do they need another vaccination or are they still protected?

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  • 107. At 1:20pm on 02 Jan 2011, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    Happy New Year everyone ;-)

    'Which is why, in my view, we really must try to avoid a "one size fits all" approach to them.'

    Just as, some people get a really awful bout of flu and others are able to shake it off relatively easily. Perhaps more clues about the behaviour of virulent strains of flue within populations can be more easily assessed by studying old census records. The one thing I noticed when going through some old census records is that certain families had a far higher death rate than others.
    Were the differences in health outcomes due to location, diet, occupation, financial security or genes? Without vaccines and antibiotics our ancestors had to rely on something else to survive various diseases.

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  • 108. At 5:25pm on 02 Jan 2011, Mindanoiha wrote:

    What is the NAME/s of the seasonal flu vaccine which is being recommended, and the manufacturer? I'm interested as I'm a pharmacist (in Norway) and I want to know all the ingredients which are contained in the vaccine/s. Not just the virus strains, but all the ingredients.

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  • 109. At 9:36pm on 02 Jan 2011, Doctor_Dailley wrote:

    Post 108: the information you requested is as follows:

    GlaxoSmithKline Fluarix
    MASTA Imuvac
    Novartis Agrippal
    Novartis Begrivac
    Novartis Fluvirin
    Pfizer Vaccines Enzira
    Pfizer Vaccines Generic influenza vaccine
    Sanofi Pasteur MSD Inactivated influenza vaccine
    Sanofi Pasteur MSD Intanza
    Solvay Healthcare Influvac
    Solvay Healthcare Imuvac

    I hope this is helpful. Best Wishes.

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  • 110. At 00:32am on 03 Jan 2011, Sutara wrote:

    re #57.


    Actually, I was more thinking along the lines of contamination - perhaps cross-contamination - e.g. AFTER cooking.

    I mean catering actually has lots of 'hard' surfaces, doesn't it? Work tops, cutting boards, pans, plates, trays, cutlery, plate covers, etc., etc. Once one surface is contaminated then it's easy to cross-contaminate.

    If the sous-chef, or my mother-in-law, or the fast food crew member,or whoever, sneezes on the salad, the point might be where's the salad? Already on the plate with the cold meat. perhaps? O.K. the residual heat of much 'hot' food might well kill off the virus - but a lot of food that we eat is not 'hot'.

    And it's those sort of thoughts which just make me think we could do with better gerneral education and training in the UK to enhance our outlook about hygiene throughout our land and people. It's just that I don't see a lot of evidence when I'm around and about that people actually grasp even the basics.

    But if they've never been told / shown, how can we expect them to?

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  • 111. At 02:55am on 03 Jan 2011, twistywillow wrote:

    I think its worth remembering that supplementa and vitamins can assist in maintaining a healthy life balance, but they wont work on someone who has an underlying illness which still requires vaccination. What they will do is 'top up' an immune system for someone who eats balanced and is basicly healthy, what they wont do is stop you getting flu (any sort) if you have a tendency to get flu, and have an underlying issue to start with.
    IE in my case feverfew can assist in keeping severe migraines down to a dull roar, but it wont cure them. And I have found it is only the raw leaf that will have an effect, not the dried version in tablet form.It also depends on the cause and reason for the attack. If its hormonal then there is no chance of it working, if it is a light sensitive one then it may help, but I would still have to take the prescribed medicine as well.
    The same with vitamin D. I had postnatal depression after one of my children was born... go get some sunshine my hv told me, will do you the world of good. Actually no, it didnt. I ended up on citalopram after 6 weeks following my hvs advice before another hv referred me to my gp. After my 3rd child I was severely anaemic and had to have iron tablets, which foul as they are, they worked a treat until my natural iron levels were back up to speed.
    Sometimes, just, sometimes, it is not possible to self medicate or fix something yourself just because the advertising says it works.Cough medicine is supposed to work too, whereas in some cases it can actually make it worse if you dont cough up the mucus from your lungs. I would love it if holistic and herbal medicines worked without the need to see a gp, for me that would be wonderful. It might for some but for others, it wont. So the best thing to say is see your gp and ask for advice before using over the counter suppliments and vitamins. Yes we do need to keep a sense of proportion over flu, but we also need to keep a sense of proportion over the idea that a multi vit a day will keep the doctor away.

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  • 112. At 03:20am on 03 Jan 2011, twistywillow wrote:

    102. At 08:57am on 02 Jan 2011, angelscomeinthrees wrote:
    Just a quick word about supplements. I would have hads my kids vaccinated with this years' flu jab but had a reaction to it myself and had to cancel their appt. as I was too unwell to look after them. They then got ill and so I hadn't been able to rearrange it. Now it's almost certainly too late.

    I am interested to see how taking vitD affects me as I tend to pick up a lot of bugs, being around children a great deal. Most of these bugs will be mild and also most of them will be things I can't get vaccinated against, even if I wanted to. As for the children, they have been very unwell and still haven't recovered their appetites, so multivits are needed at the moment. I've also chosen a supplement containing minerals including iron, because my children don't eat meat and I am aware that two of them do not eat enough non-meat iron sources. My younger daughter had been anaemic as a toddler and I saw her transform before my eyes after she was prescribed iron. It does need to be used with caution in the very young, but my lot are older now.
    Hi Angels I think we wrote last year regarding this same debate.
    I am sorry you have had a reaction to the jab... may I ask what was it?
    My mum says that she only gets a reaction if its a new strain that she has not had before and the reaction is her bodies' immune system kicking in to make the vaccine work. You cannot get flu from the jab. You can get flu like symptoms however which is where the idea comes from that the jabs cause the flu. If you did have flu like symptoms, then great, you are protected. Mum gets sore heavy arm, high temp and feels dreadful with headache for around 4 days then its gone again, usually 24 hours after the initial dose.(I might add she gets flu bad enough to be hospitalised so 4 days of aches and pains is nothing compared to the real thing) Everyone is different, the immune system picks up on it in different ways.
    If you had a very different reaction, please tell your gp (if you havent already) because it may be the base ingredients for the jab that have caused it, ie egg protein or whatever it is. Your gp should take note of this and in future you will be prescribed one with a different base ingredients that shouldn't cause a reaction. He may even be able to do the same for your children under the circumstances.
    A friend of mine has not had her children vaccinated at all. Her eldest had a reaction to the first baby jab (not mmr) which caused a massive 'infection' akin to the flesh eating bug. It was a reaction to the jab and as a result the medical decision was taken not to innoculate further. Fortunately we live in an area of high child vaccination so her children should grow up without running the risk of catching measles or mumps etc. This is great, because it shows that in an area of good vaccination uptake the children who cannot have the jabs are at lower risk, and that is what all the jabs are about, lowering the overall risk so the at risk groups are at less risk if that makes sense.
    The annual flu jab this year carried the swine flu vaccine in with it. It stung and my arm felt like it was bruised for a couple of days but that was it for me, so I am sorry you were made poorly by it. For me, it was the pneumonia one I had 20 years ago that got me, the annual flu jabs are a walk in the park compared to that one! Hope you are all well again soon.

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  • 113. At 10:06am on 03 Jan 2011, angelscomeinthrees wrote:

    Hi, Twisty,

    I suspect it was the viral part of the jab that made me ill - very high temp, aches and pains, couldn't really move, very short-lived dry cough, nausea. It hasn't put me off the jab, nor would it stop me getting the jab for my kids, but they were scheduled for it the day I was flat out in bed with a temp of 39 so I had no option but to cancel it. Then before it had been rearranged my son came down with a sore throat/vomiting bug, and that was pretty much it - I wouldn't vaccinate him because he was ill and not his sisters because I was betting they'd get it - which they did - and then it was Christmas and they got a flu-type illness anyway. So whether our GP would still even offer them the jab now I don't know. With MMR, one child got a horrible temp and the other two didn't so I don't assume that they'd replicate what happened to me.

    But at the same time there are lots of horrible bugs around that we can't get vaccinated against. I believe that norovirus kills something like 100 children a year and if strengthening our immunity makes this bug shorter-lived - or we fight it off - them I'm all for it. Norovirus simply isn't taken seriously; on Bonfire night we'd invited a friend round with her kids and her three year old regaled us with tales of vomiting in her bed all night. So my kids were doing the same a couple of days' later.

    And every cold my son gets he then gets an ear infection. So if boosting his immunity helps him to fight off colds then maybe he'll need less antibiotics.

    I've argued against supplements in the past because I do believe that nature gives us what we need, but having read the recent research on VitD I am impressed, and also right now my kids aren't eating well enough to get what they need from a balanced diet. I vaccinate against what I can, but there are always going to be nasty viruses lurking and I want my kids to have as strong immune system as possible.

    Bad luck on getting anaemic, I did with all three of my pregnancies but couldn't take supplements because of the side effects. I've had PND too - or maybe it was PTSD - whatever, you have my sympathies.

    Chloe, thank you for your kind comments. I wouldn't say I was wise so much as having gone through a very long, steep learning curve, I just do what I can! I do use allopathic medicine but when my children get recurring illnesses then it's obvious that we are treating the symptoms and not the cause. And I think the future of medicine is going to be about preventing illness in the first place; yes, this will involve vaccination, but not everything can be vaccinated against, and nor should it or our own immunity would never get the chance to develope. I've used herbal remedies myself with good results - not homeopathy, interestingly, didn't do anything for me. I'm a Reiki master myself which is even more controvertial I guess but again I use it with my children as a way of backing up whatever other treatment they get from the GP or the chemist, if it is needed. I'm experimenting with using Reiki as a preventative as well at the moment.

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  • 114. At 12:46pm on 03 Jan 2011, Chloe-in-france wrote:

    Hello again Angels: it's interesting that you are a Reiki master. My best friend from school (now retired in Greece) became a Reiki master a few years ago but I've never tried it myself.
    With regard to homeopathy I wonder if you are sceptical because you haven't met a well qualified practitioner.It's a problem that there are quite a lot of inexperienced people out there claiming to treat people. They do more harm than good to homeopathy's reputation but, fortunately, in most cases the remedies won't do any harm even if they don't do any good.
    One of my friends is a well trained and experienced homeopath. When the doctors back in England 'wrote off' my ex-husband after he was partially paralysed by a secondary tumour on his spine following un-diagnosed prostate cancer she tried to co-operate with the hospital to work out a treatment. The specialist told her there was nothing to be done but she could try if she wanted. The patient was put in a hospice and we were told he had months to live. He followed a strict regime of remedies (and it is a pain to stick to the rules - 10 minute intervals between rems, food or drink etc) and slowly but surely regained some feeling in his feet. The doctors refused to believe him: said it was his imagination and wouldn't allow him to have physiotherapy. Some months later when he showed them he could move his toes they decided he wasn't going to die and sent him home. As promised by our homeopath, after a year he could haul himself into a standing position and another year on he could walk with the help of a walking frame.Of course, he wasn't given another MRI scan in England but he had one here in France and the tumour has gone - also the prostate cancer. He does have Zoladex injections every 12 weeks so his PSA is kept low. Did homeopathy completely cure his cancer or was it entirely due to the few sessions of radiotherapy he was given?
    Anyway, to get back on subject, I do hope your children get their appetites back soon and that you all manage to avoid the bugs going around.

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  • 115. At 1:08pm on 03 Jan 2011, serendipity7000 wrote:

    Angelscomein threes: You don't have to spend a lot on elderberry juice. I'm not sure where the big hype came from, but elderflower herbal tea has been a long-standing traditional flu remedy. Elderflower is a natural antiviral - I assume the elderberries have the same but are easier to bottle. You can buy loose elderflower herb quite cheaply from one of the big suppliers of herbs online. It's a faff making up the tea to drink 3 times a day - I make a pot, have one cup then put the rest in a jar in the fridge and have a cup 3 times a day (it doesn't have to be hot) then make another pot when it has run out.

    The old herbal remedy for flu is a combination of elderflower (antiviral), yarrow (antipyrexic - brings temperature down) and peppermint. I use one teaspoon of each in an average sized teapot.

    I have found it prevents flu quite well - knocks it on the head if taken at first signs of flu - after a couple of days doesn't make a lot of difference except minimise the length of time a bit maybe.

    herbs are still medicines so you need to check any contra-indications (with existing medical conditions or medications). Elderflower on its own I believe is safe for the majority. Yarrow can have contra-indications. A cup of elderflower tea every morning is supposed to be a good tonic and preventative for colds and flu.

    It doesn't taste so bad on its own, but for children you could add a teaspoon of sugar or honey to make it taste better - just as you would in a normal cup of tea.

    Check out recommended dosages with a herbalist, herbal seller recommendation, or from the packet.

    I also researched the vitamin D3 phenomena. For asthmatics it helped improve their asthma, but didn't have any flu prevention qualities. Also take care - high doses of vitamins can have negative long-term effects - stick to the maximum guideline or below for Vitamin D3.

    I am a former nurse and studied herbalism informally. No medication is good for you but there are times when it is life-saving.

    Re the lemsip comment. It is soluble paracetamol with an anticongestant added. Some people find it a quicker and easier way of taking paracetamol - but soluble paracetamol will work just the same - just taste more unpleasant. Paracetamol is anti-pyrexic (reduces your temperature). This can be important when your temperature gets to 39 degrees or more as at 40 degrees you can die - therefore reducing a high temperature is important. Personally I prefer to take the elderflower yarrow and peppermint combination which does the same. Either way, make sure paracetamol or yarrow is not a problem for you (allergy or contra-indication).

    For swine flu prevention I am using homeopathy, as I cannot have the vaccine. I have no idea whether it works or not, but I think it can't do any harm and makes me feel I am doing something about it. There is a homeopathic swine flu prevention available - made from homeopathic doses of H1N1 virus apparently. This could be useful for children who cannot get the vaccine.

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  • 116. At 3:35pm on 03 Jan 2011, BluesBerry wrote:

    The World Health Organisation have just released figures showing that the number of cases of swine flu in the United Kingdom is spreading more quickly across the country compared to the rest of Europe (where the number of flu related illnesses is still comparably low).
    This suggests that there is some factor in the UK that is not present in the rest of the EU.
    Could this be THE FACTOR (YOUR QUOTE): "Strangely, there was comparatively little media interest in the story in autumn 2009, despite there being three times the number of people critically ill than in the summer. I get the impression that many felt we had done enough on swine flu. Indeed there was criticism in the media that the whole issue had been overblown."
    I hear that The Coalition Government will re-run it’s advertising campaign telling people how to take precautions in protecting themselves against flu viruses has seen The “Catch-it, Bin-it, Kill-it” Campaign, which will start to re-run in the national press and on radio advertisements.
    Concern has been expressed by experts who have issued warnings that the number of flu related illnesses over the next two to four week period could rise rapidly as they feel that the peak of this situation has not yet been reached.
    In the UK there are 738 people receiving intensive care treatment at the present time for flu related illnesses.

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  • 117. At 3:53pm on 03 Jan 2011, Gray-wolf wrote:

    I'd not worry about 'vaccines' Our Son is in the 'at risk' groups and had last years 'pandemic' vaccine (after having H1N1 in Oct 09') and we (most of the family) were struck down with the virus (again!) in mid Dec. My son's carers also suffered with secondary chest infection meaning anti-bio's werre needed. The California09 isolate may well be inefective as the virus has naturally 'drifted' over the last 12 months.
    HPA weekly updates also show an increase in 'tamiflu' resistance (teach them to give it out like sweets' to everyone who can read and phone the old 'hotline'!!!)

    HPA site had not updated mortality rates since wk 49 (when they started to rise above the higher' predicted' level for the time of year) and the figure of '39' confirmed fatalities is now woefully out of date.

    From the folk I have known get this years 'version' it is the worst thing they have ever experienced and has them left with an understanding of why so many young, Fit folk (like the animal trainer reported today?) cannot survive the initial infection. Many 'at Risk' seem to fall foul of 'seconary infections' (like my Father last year) and so are NOT included in the 'flu' stats as the death cert will have pnumonia/kidney failure/heart attack as the cause of death.
    Thursdays HPA update should include the 'updated' mortality figures (for all deaths) and should be a 'must see' for those who think this is a 'put on/scam/scare story (if the updated 'swine Flu deaths' figures are not enough to cause pause for thought!).

    If you look through national media for the past 4 days you'll find at least 12 more deaths (England/Scotland /N.I. and Wales)so we know the figures will 'leap' on Thurs HPA 'update' as many folk will refuse media exposure post the death of a loved one.

    Vaccine ad campaign may have proved useful in early Dec but now it is useless as the peak will occur over the next 3 weeks (or so we are advised) meaning only partial protection from the vaccine (at best) or none (if the virus has mutated to the point of 'side-stepping' the vaccine).

    Last years height of wave 2 saw 182 I.C.U. beds given over to 'victims', this year (last HPA figure) was 738 bed's given over to H1N1 victims (and all of our blood oxygenators in help there!!!! )make up your own mind.

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  • 118. At 4:13pm on 03 Jan 2011, BluesBerry wrote:

    I have been reading with keen interest about herbal remedial rememdies that some people use to fight the flu.
    I have also been reading with keen interest The European Union decision to implement a legal ban on all herbal remedies and drugs in the United Kingdom.
    The ban is scheduled to begin from May 1, 2011; traditional herbal "medicinal" products will have to be licensed or prescribed by a registered herbal practitioner (to comply with an EU directive passed in 2004).
    Apparently, the action is being implemented beecause of an ever increasing concern over adverse effects caused by some herbal medicines. The UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued more than a dozen safety alerts in the past two years.
    Did you know that a quick check with the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH, the representative body for herbal practitioners, not a single product used in traditional Chinese medicine or ayurvedic medicine has been licensed?
    This will mean that @ 2500 UK qualified herbalists and Chinese medicine practitioners will lose the right to supply a wide range of herbal medicines, because they are not registered under the statutes.
    The rant from natural practitioners is that costs of obtaining licenses are “way beyond their means.” The ANH's response is that the cost of obtaining a license ranges between GBP 80,000 to GBP 120,000 per herb, which they say is “very much affordable” (symbol: £; ISO code: GBP, commonly called the pound).
    I haven't seen any publicity re this ruling, which I think should be publicised because the new directive could mean that some people who have been consuming such drugs may obtain their herbs through other sources e.g. the internet (where the risks could be much higher).

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  • 119. At 4:23pm on 03 Jan 2011, Questionsaplenty2 wrote:

    Gray wolf

    Are you sure your family all had H1N1 the second time around? There are other flus and flu like viruses out there. My son who is never sick had two fluey viruses last summer and neither had the high cough or fever associated with swine flu, but both viruses came on suddenly like flu & he had all the unwellness of a flu rather than a cold. They can't both have been H1N1 and most likely neither were.

    I don't understand what you are talking about re the HPA site not being is updated once a week and the figures of 39 deaths were posted last Thursday on 30th December, entitled week 52; a further update will be given this week. They always have represented the data from the preceding week, and number of deaths anyway will lag the number of new cases and the death peak will occur a couple of weeks after the peak in cases for the UK as people don't die instantly in most cases.

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  • 120. At 4:28pm on 03 Jan 2011, Questionsaplenty2 wrote:

    Bluesberry - all I can say is that if it is true that the new wave of flu has spread faster in the UK than elsewhere (although I thought France declared an epidemic last week when we hadn't so that confuses me), then we will be fortunate as we are likely to reach a peak sooner than them! i'd rather this was the case than hear about it growing rapidly somewhere else and knowing that we had the same to look forward to! let's get it over with.

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  • 121. At 4:41pm on 03 Jan 2011, Questionsaplenty2 wrote:

    Regarding the use of herbal remedies, I do believe they can help in certain circumstances, after all that is what modern medicine is based on... however, I do not trust the herbalists to be trained to the same level as a doctor and I am nervous of taking most herbal remedies because they have not been fully tested and documented for inter-reactions with other herbs and modern medicines. Herbalists are neither doctors nor pharmacists and do not have the required knowledge about modern medicines to know if a herbal remedy is going to cause problems. I would like to see proper trials of herbal remedies carried out by the relevant government labs such that they can be incorporated into our medical system.

    I have used a very good acupuncturist, I am not against alternative therapies per se, but it worries me that he is allowed to sell Chinese herbal remedies without any real knowledge about what is in them and the effects they can have especially on people. I always refuse them.

    Having said that, I would take elderberry/ elderflower as it is something people have incorporated into their normal diet anyway over the years, so I would be less worried, certainly as a short term product.

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  • 122. At 6:15pm on 03 Jan 2011, Questionsaplenty2 wrote:

    My son just got back from the cinema...people were coughing all over the place. People can be incredibly selfish!

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  • 123. At 9:23pm on 03 Jan 2011, Gray-wolf wrote:

    Questionsaplenty2,Aye, that's the rub!

    Last year the H1N1 was only confirmed by a G.P. visit (no test's) and this year again it was only a G.P.'s say so. My son's 'carers' also fell foul of what ever we had 2 needed Anti-bio's for secondary chest infections (one a 'pnumonia jab').

    With Flu B not the main strain (and all carers with a 'seasonal Flu' jab for this year) I have to wonder what the heck else it could be? Up to 4 day's incubation and now most of my 'close circle' have had it over Christmas/New Year.

    Due to our son's condition I wore a 'Flu mask', and isolated Him and I, (he has a 'self contained unit')as soon as i fell ill (but to no avail as I must have been 'shedding' whatever we had for days).

    Seeing as H1N1 killed my Father in Aug of 09' ( though death cert only mentions Pnumonia and Kidney failure as the C.O.D. I'd rather hoped I have had it and am now 'immune':-)

    If the H1N1 was 'always' 2 elements with the slower 'element' leading to lower resp. Tract infection (once the 'catchy' bit lays you low with the upper resp tract infection) then I can understand why over 40% of the wk 51 Swine Flu deaths had no underlying health issues ( like the animal trainer reported today?)

    Maybe we should wait until national mortality rates are updated on thurs to see if any spike in national death rates continues after wk49 (where it's currently stuck)and how many are associated with resp. failure?

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  • 124. At 9:24pm on 03 Jan 2011, angelscomeinthrees wrote:

    Chloe, I can highly recommend Reiki - out of everything that I have tried it is the most effective for quick relief, and being able to treat my kids when they are sick is so good. I get a funny feeling in my hands whenever someone near me is sending out signals for healing, and my hands get very hot once I start. I have a friend who I have treated for a back problem and her husband asked mine if I was hypnotising his wife into believing that I was helping, which is both funny and insulting at the same time!

    Re homeopathy, I sought out someone who was very experienced and I trusted her; I just don't think it worked for me. Very interested to hear about your ex. I think that the mind can do some amazing things in terms of healing the body, if it thinks healing is happening. Thank you for your good wishes for the children, I made a Morrocan casserole for dinner which they ate quite a bit of so hopefully the corner is being turned.

    My guess is that the reason sf is spreading so quickly in the UK is the way we behave during the run-up to Christmas and over Christmas and New year - we travel all over the country to visit friends and family, and jam into shops and supermarkets for both Christmas shopping and sale bargains. On New Years Eve you couldn't get into either of the supermarket car parks in our town. I don't think any other country in Europe behaves like this over Christmas.

    Questions, I'm guessing that whilst an early peak is a good thing in the sense it will get it over and done with sooner, in another way it is a bad thing as it will increase the pressure on critical care as they will just get swamped. I read somewhere that ministers are being told to close schools to give things a break which makes sense in a way, so long as they can ensure that doctors, nurses etc get childcare of some kind.

    Re herbalism, I agree with you about Chinese herbal medicine, there have been instances of adulterated medicines being given; a notorious one was an eczema wonder cream that was stuffed full of very strong steroids. Western herbalism is a different thing though; to be a member of the NIMH you need to undertake very rigourous study, akin to that of a pharmacist, certainly. Increasingly interactions between drugs and herbs are becoming noted and I wouldn't be concerned about taking most well-known herbs unless you need very full-on medication or are pg. That said, I find I can't tolerate tinctures very well so tend to take teas, which are a milder way of getting them generally. Incidentally, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing; many midwives recommend peppermint tea for both pregnancy and post-natal use, I've even seen it in magazines, but the safest teas to use are ginger during pg and camomile when breastfeeding, not peppermint as it is too stimulating. (I got that from my own medical herbalist who doesn't live near me any more, boo hoo!)

    Serendipity, thank you, I'd always assumed that elderflower was more for rhinitis/hayfever than flu. My husband drinks elderflower for hayfever - I wonder if a bottle of cordial is as effective as the tea? I used to buy elderberry rob but I can't get it any longer, hence my plans to make my own. With regards to VitD, I am taking 1000 thingies - apparently the safe limit is 4000 - and the kids are getting their RDA. Re lemsip, I take paracetamol or nurofen anyway, so extra wouldn't be safe, and I'm not a fan of the other stuff they add to it.

    Bluesberry, I am aware of what you are talking about re the EU directives, there are similar moves afoot in the States and it is linked to some list that the WHO have drawn up. I don't do conspiracy theories but I smell something fishy with this one. A quick google will bring up some petitions you can sign, Gramma's are running one I think. Luckily I have my own hedge stuffed with elder!

    Tip I've just been sent: rub Vick on your feet and pop on some socks to sort out night coughs. Anyone tried it?

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  • 125. At 9:34pm on 03 Jan 2011, angelscomeinthrees wrote:

    The worst virus ever to hit us was in March 2006 - temps over 39-40, and a terrible cough, but not just that - my daughters' eyes were totally glazed for ten days' or more, it was like there was no-one there. Both me and one daughter ended up in hospital on drips - I was 7 mo pregnant at the time - and she also had to go through a lumbar puncture as she was so ill they feared meningitis. Goodness only knows what it was but it was doing the rounds, some people got a 24 hr temp and some ended up in hospital with it. I guess these weird and scarey things can be lurkling for us at any time...

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  • 126. At 11:38pm on 03 Jan 2011, Sutara wrote:

    I still have a feeling that we perhaps banged on too much about H1N1 and so people got their vaccination for that and then the experts and the media banged on about the current season's flu jab being mainly H1N1, so those people just kind of thought that they didn't really need to get that one again, so skipped the seasonal one, thereby missing being vaccinated for other key flu strains.

    It would be interesting, and surely possible, to do some sampling of NHs records to see if their is a significant failure to take up seasonal flu jabs amongst those who got the "swine flu" jab.

    It might inform the approach we take when talking about these things to the general public in the future.

    I mean, we do need maximum public protection against ALL the major seasonal flu risks, as it reduces the risks of contracting it for others who might be more vulnerable to it. This isn't just about individuals it is also about public health i.e. the health of the whole population.

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  • 127. At 02:01am on 04 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Gray Wolf

    For the second time you have posted false information, nothing is "stuck" at week 49. The statistics are updated once a week and the figures of 39 deaths were posted last Thursday on 30th December, entitled week 52; a further update will be given this week.

    Take a look yourself.

    And "Flu B" may not be the main strain, but its still prevalent in the general populace. And one other thing, you state you may of been shedding the virus, whatever it was, for days. Well if it was Swine flu, you would of been shedding it for an absolute maximum of one day before symptoms began.

    And there are many many more viruses out there than H1N1 Swine flu. You havent been struck down with it numerous times, I can almost guarantee you that. I'm sorry if I sound harsh, I just don't like hearsay and false information posted on a message board populated by lots and lots of people who have severe health anxiety related to the topic at hand. It's unfair on them.

    In other news, let's talk about the death rates.

    So far we have had 39 deaths from swine flu, since October. Last year we had 450 or something, I can't remember the exact details.

    Now the fact there are over 700 people in intensive care with swine flu may sound very alarming, but there is a good reason for that. Last year people were reluctant to seek medical help with it, partly due to the media pushing the whole "stay away from everyone if your sick" etc... Now people are seeking help earlier, and getting put in intensive care, we are seeing far, far less deaths than last year.

    There's a hell of a lot of swine flu around right now, hundreds of thousands of cases a week at the minimum, yet the death rates aren't anywhere near as high as they were last year. Yes the intensive care is packed with flu cases, which is a good thing. People are seeking help earlier, and far more are likely to survive due to this.

    Like I said before, I belive the peak will be occuring as we speak, or in around a weeks time. Purely due to the build up time, the sheer numbers of cases, the herd immunity from last year, the less than expected increase in deaths for the last recorded week. In around a months time, there will be significantly lower levels of influenza in the community, and in two months time, it will be back to base background levels. Swine flu hits hard and fast, due to the lack of immunity in the community. It burns itself out quickly due to this too. Which is a horrid scenario for our brave intensive care workers, doctors, nurses etc... But it does get it all out the way quicker for those of you with health anxiety.

    Take basic precautions, eat healthily, get the vaccine if you like, and rest if you get sick. It'll all be over before you know it, just like last year.

    Take care guys and girls.

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  • 128. At 09:44am on 04 Jan 2011, angelscomeinthrees wrote:

    Thanks as ever, Skyline. One thing I don't understand is why there is so much H1N1 about if we have herd immunity. That sounds like a contradiction? And what about the schools reopening? I remember the first reports of sf I heard just before Christmas were in a school.

    My kids are booked in to see the GP today because they still aren't sleeping and have viral symtoms. I am so reluctant to send them back to school tomorrow. No-one at the hospital mentioned sf in relation to what our children had, although one paedetrician did mention 'flu'. None of my children or my husband got chest infections although they did get coughs and other secondary problems. Was it sf or one of the other flavours floating about? I don't want to expose them to another bout of something so soon after the last, and, being honest, don't want to go through the trauma of yet another dash to hospital by ambulance, or spend any more weeks getting up three times a night to take temps and filling out meds charts. I'm not doing flu any more.

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  • 129. At 1:55pm on 04 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Herd immunity isn't an exact science. There are communities where there were very little cases of swine flu last year, and there are communities where herd immunity is almost a guarantee due to the sheer numbers of super spreaders and others that went down with it. You also have to remember the 1/3 to 1/4 of people who dont show any symptoms whatsoever. Another thing to remember is only one in three people have immunity to swine flu from the last outbreat, there are still two thirds of the population out there who can catch it. Well... Significantly less now since we are well into a flu season, with millions of cases already this season.

    The schools have to open, you cant delay life purely because there's a virus around with a 1/40,000 case fatality ratio. If this was a much much more severe virus, and I know its horrid and I feel greatly for those suffering from it, or who have lost loved ones, if this was a much more virulent strain, yes I could understand shutting the schools. But this wave is far less severe than the winter 2009 wave, and even that was below average when it comes to influenza fatalities. You just have to keep everything in context.

    If your kids are showing signs of a virus, I wouldn't send them to school, purely for the sake of the other kids they could infect. It's unfair on them. Plus plenty of rest will get them better much quicker, as you know.

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  • 130. At 2:05pm on 04 Jan 2011, kate wrote:

    We are flying with my 13-month-old girl on a long-haul flight in 4 weeks time. We have the choice to give her either H1N1 vacc or MMR vacc tomorrow, and the other after we return. My doc cannot advise me one way or the other. Any thoughts from doctor/nurses etc???

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  • 131. At 2:57pm on 04 Jan 2011, Shamo75 wrote:

    Hi all,

    with regard to Kate's post I'd prob be inclined to go with the MMR as H1N1 will, fingers crossed start to decline before any vaccine given now takes effect. Where as not being covered for MMR may pose a greater risk statistically speaking. I'm no expert but I do know that measels and mumps do in rare instances cause serious and sometimes fatal illness but H1N1 causes serious/fatal illness in an even smaller number of cases.

    your decision may also be influenced by the flu season in the country you are visiting.

    Good luck

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  • 132. At 3:04pm on 04 Jan 2011, angelscomeinthrees wrote:

    Hi, Skyline, I'm one of those parents who usually keeps my kids at home for a sniffle! I've just seen our GP and she thinks that they are beyond the contagious stage and we decided that they will probably benefit from a routine with regards to their sleeping pattern. As we only have three days this week I will probably send them in and see how they get on, at least for a couple of days'. She's not happy to vaccinate them just yet though as they still have raised glands etc.

    Also: she says they are seeing little or no swine flu, flu cases are about average when you discount last year, and that she cannot understand the 'hype in the media', however tragic sf is proving for a small number of people. The only issue that she is facing is the surge in numbers of 'at risk' people who declined the flu jab / didn't bother getting it and who are now panicking and turning up wanting the jab.

    At the same time though have seen that in Norfolk there are red and black alerts at some hospitals.

    With regards to school closures, I'm in favour of chopping a week or two off the summer holiday and sticking it on the winter break when kids really need it. Our ancestors knew to work shorter hours in the winter and just because our working lives don't allow it, we could still follow a more natural pattern for our children.

    Kate, I can't advise from a medical pov, but what quality of medical care will be available where you are going?

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  • 133. At 3:06pm on 04 Jan 2011, Shamo75 wrote:

    Why are we seeing such an explosion of cases when the Government told us last year that a large proportion of us had already had the flu and last winter's flu season was comparitively mild?
    As a father of a 1 year old who will start nursery next week I'm quite anxious about this impending 'appocoliptic flu surge' the press are reporting on and the lack of ICU beds available. My wife had the H1N1 jab last January just before DS was born so I'm hoping he has protection though I fear this may not be very much. Does anyone have any info on this?
    How long can we expect this next big surge to last; days, weeks??

    Thanks again to Skyline for pointing out to others that some of us suffer from health anxiety and as ridiculous as it may seem to others it can be all consuming to those (myself included) that suffer with it.

    To Skyline:Out of interest do you have a medical/science background?

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  • 134. At 3:16pm on 04 Jan 2011, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    Now the kids are back to school will there be a new spike in flu numbers and are the authorities geared up for a surge?

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  • 135. At 3:52pm on 04 Jan 2011, angelscomeinthrees wrote:

    Kate: further thought, mumps is one of the biggest causes of meningitis.

    Shamo, just to reiterate what my GP told me earlier, there is no apocalyptic flu surge and the situation in terms of number of cases is not as bad as last year. It does seem that there have been a good many cases all at once and I think the hospital services are going to be flying by the seat of their pants for a while, but it will be over quickly, too. Weeks, not days, but not months either. Lots of the cases last year were in children because they were the superspreaders; yes, it will do the rounds but a lot of children will already have immunity or have been vaccinated, so my belief is that it isn't going to be as big a surge as some fear.

    You can buy an essential oil called ravensara from specialist aromatherapy suppliers via the net. You can put a drop of it onto your boy's collar or at the back of his t-shirt and it helps to keep the bugs away in the same way tea tree does, only it's gentler and more suitable for little ones. (Don't use it neat). You can also use it in room vapurisers and sprays. It's not a substitute for vaccination but I used it a lot last year and we were more bug free. I'm off to buy some more now.

    FWIW when any youngster starts at nursery or pre-school they get every bug going. Expect to see chicken pox sometime this year, a couple of d&v bugs, and the permanent snots. Get an ear thermometer if you haven't already, put some ice lollies in the freezer and make sure you have bottles of calpol and nurofen (you should have dioralyte too but I've never got a child to drink that!) It might be worth checking out hygiene procedures at the nursery; look out for hand sanitiser etc.

    I have three kids, I know all about anxiety for them, but it does get better as they get older, promise.

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  • 136. At 3:58pm on 04 Jan 2011, angelscomeinthrees wrote:

    Sorry, Shamo, I hope my 'every bug going comment' hasn't worried you even more - I wasn't referring to swine flu! The chances are that your son's nursery will have had it already as it is the schools that are expected to get hit, not childcare as they haven't closed for as long. Also swine flu went throuigh our local nursery and everything I've heard is that it was mild compared to some bugs that go around, and certainly no-one ended up seriously ill.

    In the long run your son's immunity will be much strengthened from going to nursery. Don't worry. :)

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  • 137. At 4:15pm on 04 Jan 2011, kate wrote:

    Thanks so much for your replies. We're going to Canada, so very good health care once we get there.

    I'm keen to give her the MMR asap, but I have no idea of rates of complications etc from H1N1 in under-5s, so have nothing to compare the measles/mumps risks to. Your replies have reminded me they may be more risky than H1N1, but surely she's far more likely to contract the latter? So hard to know what to do and so short a time to decide!

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  • 138. At 4:29pm on 04 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    R.E Shamo75 #133

    I suffered from health anxiety throughout my teenage years to the extent I was failing in my classes, not eating, ended up with CBT etc... Due to this I've studied medical science, virology, psychology etc. I don't work in the medical profession, but I've many friends who are medical students, doctors, an international virologist etc... And I've always been interested and kept myself very aware in and of the medical world, due to my crippling health anxiety when I was younger.

    Health anxiety. It seems bizarre to others I know, and the only people who can truly understand how all consuming and terrifying it is, are people who have suffered themselves from it, or similar issues. But honestly, you can and will overcome it. I've been in the worst places I ever thought I could be mentally, and I essentially ruined my own teenage years by giving into it. If you'd of told me back then that I'd be traveling around the world to incredibly remote locations away from those all powerful doctors, hospitals and safety nets I so needed, I wouldn't of believed you for a second!

    It gets better, its cliche but honestly true.

    In regards to this surge. I personally expect it to be pretty much over in a month. Pandemic influenza tends to blow through pretty quickly due to the fact the vast majority of people are so venerable to it. It's not like seasonal flu where the majority of people may be immune to a certain strain due to prior exposure, so it takes a while to work its way through the populace. Herd immunity is a complex thing, and whilst over a third of the population now has it, two thirds don't.

    In regards to the mass media and the scaremongering stories. They look for quotes to frighten people, as fear sells. A journalist will interview a virologist, and push and push him to say terrifying things in order to get that quote for their headlines. The vast majority of what will be printed as "quotes" will be out of context, the absolute worst case scenario etc. There's no money in printing "oh well the mortality rates are one in fourty thousand, herd immunity means we are in a far better place than last year, and in a months time we should be getting back to normal background flu levels"

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  • 139. At 4:39pm on 04 Jan 2011, Questionsaplenty2 wrote:

    Well Sky are having their "get everyone" fearful moment today. "More deaths expected as Xmas break ends!". They have interviewed some guy (expert) who's saying there are likely to be more deaths ...well yes, sadly that will happen, irrespective of the xmas break ending. But it isn't news. If we are around the peak, there will be more deaths before we come out of it. It isn't a sign that this is getting worse depite their article plugging it as such.

    I am interested, though, as to whether we will see any surge as schools go back or indeed whether the schoolkids, previous superspreaders, are largely immune now. Noticeably, the average number of serious cases per year of age is much lower in the 5-15 age group compared to the other age groups this time around certainly.

    You know I do believe part of the problem people are having (myself included) which is making them more anxious is grasping a sense of the vast numbers of people infected. 39 deaths sounds horrendous, but we have to keep remembering how many people have had it and survive! And that is most, including those who have to be hospitalised!

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  • 140. At 5:02pm on 04 Jan 2011, Questionsaplenty2 wrote:

    To cheer people up... I found the following comment within the last HPA report (which I have read several times over this week but only just noticed):

    The proportion of calls for fever in the 5-14 year age group decreased from 21.6% to 16.8%, though this remains above the baseline level of 9%. This suggests the possiblity that we may be approaching the peak of influenza activity.

    So just more confirmation that we are close to peak!

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  • 141. At 5:09pm on 04 Jan 2011, angelscomeinthrees wrote:

    Shamo, listen to Skyline. My anxiety isn't totally gone yet but it is crippling when it is bad. Thing is, when you are off in your head worrying about some imagined future you aren't living your life now. appreciating and enjoying your little boy. I've been there too.

    CBT is good; what has worked for me is something called The Work by Byron Katie. You can find her website easily and watch her go through her method of questioning fearful thinking on just about every issue you can imagine. Every time I get a fearful thought I go back and question it using The Work. It has totally shifted my thinking and I can't recommend it highly enough.

    Kate, whatever you decide, you can use the ravensara oil I mentioned earlier on to ward off bugs on flights. Also I've heard good reports of holding a lemon. Don't laugh; lemon is powerfully antiseptic, and holding and sniffing a lemon is suppoed to release the oils in the skin. You may get some funny looks, but...(disclaimer: home remedies are no substitute for vaccination - I must say that or Skyline will tell me off ;))

    Re the 'experts' on the telly, they do have to cover themselves with the 'all flu can change' line. It's not likely that sf will, but in theory it can. And this is what the journos them pick up on and push, asking for the worst case scenarios. I'm guessing that many virologists aren't used to dealing with SKY new presenters. And maybe one or two like their moment in the sun.

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  • 142. At 5:26pm on 04 Jan 2011, Whitsa1 wrote:

    There is something very fishy about the official statistics. Supposedly there are thousands of deaths every year in the UK from seasonal flu, "most" in the over 65s category.

    Currently we have had 39 deaths (from different flu strains), only 1 of whom was more than 65? So where are the thousands of over 65s who should be dying of flu?

    Please explain???

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  • 143. At 5:45pm on 04 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Because the vast majority of over 65s aren't affected by swine flu due to prior immunity from similar strains earlier in their lives. So the older generation have had a couple winters of very very few deaths in comparison to regular winters of flu.

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  • 144. At 6:04pm on 04 Jan 2011, angelscomeinthrees wrote:

    I wasn't affected by the flu-type virus that went though my family over Christmas and I have had the flu jab; neither did my parents (both over 65) get it, which is one thing that makes me believe that it could have been swine flu as both are 'at risk' from seasonal flu.

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  • 145. At 6:35pm on 04 Jan 2011, Shamo75 wrote:

    For the first time I feel understood. My health anxiety was a slippery slope. I only ever seemed to slide deeper into it no matter how hard I scrambled. I ended up keeping my mouth shut as it frustrated everyone around me as they just didn't appreciate the 'fear'.
    Last year whilst my wife was pregnant I lived every second in a state of fear as angel described in 'an imagined future' Fed by horrifying headlines,statistics and no sense of proportion.
    I still get a little anxious prior to Thursday's figures being released but can't see how they can be much worse. Still scratching my head as to why so many more people are in intensive care. I think Skyline explained it before but it still seems to niggle.

    On a slightly more relevant tack I heard talk of a universal flu vaccine that will target a common protein found in all flu varieties and so should go towards making flu a thing of the past, but that may be something I misunderstood.

    Great blog and thanks to everyone that posts.

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  • 146. At 7:19pm on 04 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Shamo, look at it like this. There may be many many more people in intensive care this year, but far less are dying. That can only be a positive. People who would of previously passed away are seeking treatment earlier and surviving. It's a huge positive.

    As for the universal flu vaccine, in 10 years time the concept of pandemic influenza could be a thing of the past, as a universal vaccine would essentially rule out a flu pandemic in the first world at least, the third world nations wouldn't be so luck I'd imagine, unless a worldwide vaccination campaign such as the smallpox one happened, that would be excellent.

    The world truly is overpopulated though, and the more we prevent illness and death, the worse the overpopulation will get. The only answer is limiting the amount of kids everybody has, as the earth cannot sustain us all at this rate. But that's another topic altogether.

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  • 147. At 8:19pm on 04 Jan 2011, Whitsa1 wrote:

    Re #142, #143. I get that swine-flu doesn't seem to affect the over-65s. But if we believe the official statistics there are thousands of flu deaths every year. Since Oct 30th there have been 39 recorded flu deaths (most but not all from swine flu). Only 1 over 65. So how do you explain the huge drop in flu related deaths? Has swine flu taking over as the dominant strain actually been a HUGE life-saver? Or are the reported statistics nonsense?

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  • 148. At 8:38pm on 04 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Well swine flu has a lower case fatality ratio to the regular seasonal flu strains yes. It kills less people per 100,000 people, far less in fact.

    Another thing is the majority of people who catch swine flu are younger. Due to this, far less will die, since younger people can fight of a virus better than the older generations. So there will be less deaths there too. If this virus was affecting the over 60s like a regular flu season, there would be hundreds and thousands of deaths, just like a normal flu season.

    Swine flu is, technically, a huge life saver yes. It causes far less deaths due to the fact the older generation are rarely affected.

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  • 149. At 9:58pm on 04 Jan 2011, sussexjools wrote:

    I admit to paranoia in wishing to protect my family from flu and possible complications. Have been frustrated at being unable to access seasonal flu vaccination for my primary school child who has no underlying risk factors. However, I am glad to see that it has finally made the news that pharmacies and supermarkets are unnecessarily withholding the vaccine from under 18s, whose parents wish to access this for them, given that the dept of health has said there's no reason medically why children can't be vaccinated. There is hope that Lloyds will reconsider this, even if it isn't for this season. Let's just hope that the suggestion of the swine flu virus storming through our schools in the next few weeks is an overestimation. I just wish I'd had the choice as a parent to protect my child for this flu season.

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  • 150. At 10:01pm on 04 Jan 2011, haufdeed wrote:

    148. At 8:38pm on 04 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Swine flu is, technically, a huge life saver yes. It causes far less deaths due to the fact the older generation are rarely affected.

    So, if swine flu is such a huge life saver, then why vaccinate against it? If the figures can be trusted, then swine flu has saved many thousands more lives than any of the expensive vaccination campaigns aimed at seasonal flu.

    And why would the presence of swine flu reduce the numbers dying from seasonal flu, which I assume hasn't been eradicated yet? The fall in the number of flu deaths this winter takes a bit of explaining, but I wait with interest.

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  • 151. At 10:02pm on 04 Jan 2011, chippermrd wrote:

    First post for a while, maybe made 1 or 2 last year, I am very close to this and other outbreaks. My comments;

    The 'death' rates of flu year on year are mainly estimates, in that we calculate the probability of death due to or which flu is a major contributing factor, i.e. community acquired phenomena etc. Simple very few (and I mean very few) of those are lab confirmed (est less than 4%).

    With H1N1 EVERY one will be lab confirmed, meaning many are missed (no need for panic) they are just missed, especially in the community. It doesn’t mean the numbers are lower or higher.

    Pressures in the acute setting are NOT in the A&E’s but most English hospitals are under extreme pressure in the ICU/HDU units as most of those requiring acute medical care are going straight to ICU/HDU. With the expansion of ICU/HDU to accommodate these additional patients, there are obvious pressures downstream on surgery.

    UK hospitals are very very well placed to deal with this slightly higher than usual seasonal surge (now above I say ICU/HDU is under extreme pressure and now slightly higher than normal that’s because ICU/HDU is always tight but well managed, odd I know! This includes PICU and ECMO etc.)

    Finally on vaccine, no comment down to the individual, but I've had 1

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  • 152. At 10:34pm on 04 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:


    Why not vaccinate against it? Surely if it can save hundreds of lives, its worth doing? Not to mention how rotten it is for hundreds of thousands of people, why not prevent all that misery?

    The presence of swine flu reduces the numbers of deaths from other strains, because it's the dominant strain by far. There's very little influenza activity that isn't swine flu currently, so the older generations aren't getting hit with the usual bouts of flu they suffer so horribly with.

    If you co infect somebody with swine flu and a "seasonal strain" they will only pass on the swine flu, it's the dominant strain. Its under no evolutionary pressure to mix and mutate either hence why it's such a stable flu virus, it has a clear biological advantage. It hasn't been around for decades, hence why there are so many perfect hosts. Eventually, swine flu will just be another seasonal strain of flu. Well it already is to be honest, the cases are just much higher this year and last year, as it's still relatively new. In 5 years time it will probably just be another winter strain.

    Seasonal strains haven't been eradicated no, but they are rather unusual in the community due to the levels of swine flu, it will all balance itself out as the winters pass.

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  • 153. At 11:12pm on 04 Jan 2011, haufdeed wrote:

    152. At 10:34pm on 04 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Why not vaccinate against it? Surely if it can save hundreds of lives, its worth doing?
    Well, now I really fail to understand your logic. Your post 148- " Swine flu is, technically, a huge life saver yes." If it saves many more lives than it takes, then I repeat, why vaccinate? Surely it's better to let swine flu run through the population, causing minimal deaths, while it suppresses (no I still don't understand the mechanism, but you say so) normal seasonal flu, thus a net saving of thousands of lives? Isn't the point of vaccination to save lives?

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  • 154. At 11:33pm on 04 Jan 2011, coughupnow wrote:

    Following a quite intense "flu vac" period in Oct/Nov last year I thought I'd make a note of a few of the reasons that patients had given me as to why they wouldn't accept the vaccination. (I'm a nurse in case you haven't guessed). Many seemed fairly sure it was a scam and reiterated what has been said on this blog before (BigPharma et al). Others posed interesting questions, here are a few....(i) Why is swine flu only prevalent during winter ? With the advent of aeroplane travel between the hemispheres, it is inconcievable that the virus would not find it's way over here in the summer too....after all it purportedly originated in Mexico which is not known for being cold, so transmission does not depend on environmental temperature. (ii) Why is there always a surge in cases following the vaccination window (does seem to be the case in my experience)(iii) why would a virus go against evolution and target much more resistant/younger immune systems (16-45) and be potent enough to kill the host than follow the path that most organisms do and go for the older, failing physiology unless it had been engineered to do so (yes I know that's touching on the conspiracy side but I had no answer to hand). I would stress these are not particlarly my views but it gives an indication of what the man/woman in the street may be thinking. This is an excellent site but I sometimes feel that the reponses are fairly clinical ie trawling the net for data to back up points rather than seeking to understand why people do not follow their GP/DoH advice. The pro-vaccination lobby fail to understand that the science may be correct but the "system" that gives us the science is not trusted by a large number of people, whether they are influenced by "conspiracy" or Pseudo-intellectual "guides" I don't know. To make progress, one has to confront the opposition and disprove it, not simply ridicule it as being unworthy of debate. Such unwillingness to engage merely fuels suspicion amongst the unsure. Just my observation...

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  • 155. At 11:41pm on 04 Jan 2011, angelscomeinthrees wrote:

    Haufdeed, I am no expert and I am sure that someone will come up with a better answer than this. But firstly, swine flu will pose a far, far greater threat in countries that have no NHS, or limited access to critical care units and antibiotics for secondary infections, or where the general health of the populace is so poor as we have seen in South America. In these countries vaccinating against swine flu makes sense, and because the world is such a small place these days it stands to reason that extending the vaccine worldwide also makes sense.

    Secondly, although in theory the notion of sacrificing a few lives for the greater good may sound fine in theory, we are talking about hundreds of real people, with as much right to have their lives protected as those who are at risk from seasonal flu. I can see that in exceptional circumstances such sacrifices may be necessary, but this isn't it. And both swine flu and seasonal flu are vaccine-preventable, not just swine flu.

    Sussexjools, I would be interested to hear from a nurse as to whether there is a difference between vaccinating an adult and vaccinating a child. As I understand it Tesco have said that their staff are trained to vaccinate adults only. Call me picky, but unless there isn't any real difference I want my kids jabbed by someone who knows what they are doing. Presumably the extra training would cost more, or better qualified staff employed. Maybe next year the high st vaccine suppliers might invest in really protecting the British public rather than going for the cheapest option.

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  • 156. At 06:22am on 05 Jan 2011, Questionsaplenty2 wrote:

    angels - I was thinking the same thing re why they wont vaccinate kids. I can think of only 2 possible reasons based on my experience...
    Firstly, the pharmacist that vaccinated me was a little nervous (not in sticking the needle in) but in handling the whole thing. They are not nurses and don't have much general training in this. From what it appeared to me, he had simply been taught to make sure no air was in the needle ( I hope so anyway) and stick it in the muscle, but he was overworried where it was going in whereas the arm muscle is a big area and hard to miss and a nurse would have been a lot more confident.
    secondly, children might scream or wriggle...I just cannot see the pharmacist I had being able to handle that...what if he had the needle in the arm while the child whisked their arm away?

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  • 157. At 08:46am on 05 Jan 2011, Questionsaplenty2 wrote:

    Interesting to note, in Canada, the most prevalent flu this winter is actually H3N2 rather than H1N1 like us. They are saying they think it is because of the higher takeup of the H1N1 vaccine during the previous wave (45% rather than 8% here in the UK)

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  • 158. At 09:12am on 05 Jan 2011, angelscomeinthrees wrote:

    Questions, from your experience getting the jab it definitely sounds like minimal training is involved. My daughter is like a rake and I should think it takes a lot of experience to vaccinate a child with tiny arms like hers.

    Re the vaccine uptake here versus Canada, what is slightly annoying about that statistic is that to the best of my knowledge the sf vacine from last year was never offered to the general populace. Instead we know there were loads of unused doses; I think there was talk of sending some to countries that were short but whether that happened or not I don't know; presumably quite a lot got destroyed. There are enough 'worried well' in this country who would have taken up the vaccine for themselves or their children, thereby possibly reducing the severity of the outbreak that we have now.

    I've just heard that our local hospital - one of the biggest in the country - is turning away patients.

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  • 159. At 09:18am on 05 Jan 2011, haufdeed wrote:

    155. At 11:41pm on 04 Jan 2011, angelscomeinthrees wrote:
    swine flu will pose a far, far greater threat in countries that have no NHS, or limited access to critical care units and antibiotics for secondary infections, or where the general health of the populace is so poor as we have seen in South America. In these countries vaccinating against swine flu makes sense, and because the world is such a small place these days it stands to reason that extending the vaccine worldwide also makes sense.
    Just had a look at the world situation map at . It is quite striking how swine flu cases are overwhelmingly centred in the UK, which presumably has one of the highest rates of vaccination against swine flu. No evidence at all of high mortality anywhere, that I can find.

    According to Skyline, the presence of Swine Flu in the UK is saving thousands of lives. Some people are dying from Swine Flu, but total flu deaths are a fraction of the normal UK winter figure, despite the coldest winter (so far) for many years, which you would normally expect to result in increased flu mortality.

    Isn't it a huge positive that flu mortality has declined so dramatically? If the decline is due to swine flu, why try to eradicate it?

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  • 160. At 09:31am on 05 Jan 2011, angelscomeinthrees wrote:

    Haufdeed, check out Question's stat of a vaccination rate in the UK of 8% last year. I know for a fact (from talking to people in the front line as well as the media) that the uptake this year has been below average, too.

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  • 161. At 2:37pm on 05 Jan 2011, Gray-wolf wrote:

    Skyline on fire;

    this is the info I have concerns over. It is normally updated weekly (along with the rest of the info) but has not been since the first 'uptick' in serious flu cases.

    My own Father died of swine Flu in Aug , 09' but his death cert did not include H1N1 as a reason for death rather putting pnumonia/Kidney failure ( the secondaries that the flu brought him to)as the cause.

    This (to me)is why the 'overall death rates' are a useful tool(and sub classes like resp. failure etc)in accessing the impacts of this "3rd Wave".
    Anyhow ,appology accepted for your rudeness ;-)

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  • 162. At 2:54pm on 05 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:


    The statistics are updated weekly on the HPA website, if that isn't good enough for you, why not make your own graphs and charts? No figures are "Frozen" if the graphs aren't being filled in, it doesn't mean the figures are frozen, since we are getting updates every week, and will be getting one tomorrow.

    Anyhow, apology accepted for your mistakes ;-)

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  • 163. At 2:57pm on 05 Jan 2011, Gray-wolf wrote:

    haufdeed ;

    Take a peep for media coverage around the UK and maybe then think on the mortality rate?

    Seems to be a lot of 'young ,fit ,healthy folk with big issues (teeeny proportion of the UK population with ;Flu' but still 'unusual' with Flu to do this???)

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  • 164. At 3:16pm on 05 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    What exactly is your point? The latest statistics will be published tomorrow. It's exactly the same situation as last year, millions of cases, tens and eventually, hundreds of deaths. It's a horrid virus that has a very low mortality rate, lower than seasonal flu. Now that's just a fact.

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  • 165. At 6:54pm on 05 Jan 2011, onlysmee wrote:

    Hi everyone,
    Hoping that someone on here will be able to help with a question I have. I took my 3 year old son to be vaccinated at a private London clinic yesterday (he's in an at risk group due to asthma and previously severe reactions to viral infections, and had a temp when he was originally booked at my GP, then they ran out of vaccine by the time he was better...). The clinic, which I'd researched pretty fully and seemed to have a good reputation, gave him Fluvirin, from Novartis. Being fairly obsessive about such things (yep, another partially recovered health anxiety sufferer!) I noted the vaccine given and looked it up when I got home. Turns out it's only licensed for use in kids of 4 and over. He's 3.
    Clearly, I'm pretty worried about this, but from what I can find out, the vaccine shouldn't in theory be a greater risk to him than the licensed version. However the response to it in kids under 4 was relatively poor, so he may not be protected. The clinic's suggestion is to redo him immediately with a licensed vaccine for kids from 6 months up. My gut instinct is that vaccinating a kid twice in three days has to be a bad idea and I'd rather accept he may not be fully protected than put him through that, but is this a valid view? Anyone have any thoughts? Thanks in advance...

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  • 166. At 7:05pm on 05 Jan 2011, haufdeed wrote:

    163. At 2:57pm on 05 Jan 2011, Gray-wolf wrote:

    Take a peep for media coverage around the UK and maybe then think on the mortality rate?

    Had a look, thanks. What I've seen is a load of articles hyping up what are, by historical standards, very low mortality rates. In fact the lowest mortality figures from flu for years (correct me if I'm wrong, please). I don't see a single article saying- "UK flu deaths only a fraction of last year's figures". Yet I understand that to be the true position. The cynic in me questions why the reporting turns much better figures into some sort of crisis. Or maybe I have totally misunderstood this whole issue?

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  • 167. At 7:53pm on 05 Jan 2011, Shamo75 wrote:

    Hi Onlysmee,

    one thing I do know is that no vaccine will provide complete protection from the Flu, however Novartis along with GSK, Sanofi et all have all reported an excellent level of protection in the vast majority of trial subjects; this largely due to the novelty of H1N1 and the integrity of it's DNA having been under little pressure to change has made it easier to match. Other strains of flu require a little more of an educated guess by the vaccine companies as they do drift each year. I can see no reason other than a complicated licensing system in the EU to make the vaccine unsuitable to under 4's. Just as pregnant women were not licensed to receive the vaccine last year, this was not on safety grounds but purely an EU requirement for certain stages of tests to have occurred prior to public consumption. I wouldn't worry and equally wouldn't bother with another jab as your son's immune system will already be responding to the antibodies in the Fluvarin and any additional jabs at this stage will do nothing to benefit. (this is only my opinion based on my obsession with all things H1N1. I am not medically qualified so just offering my fairly limited understanding.)

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  • 168. At 8:28pm on 05 Jan 2011, SkylineOnFire wrote:


    Well said!

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  • 169. At 10:18pm on 05 Jan 2011, onlysmee wrote:

    Thanks very much Shamo75, echoes my view and the information Novartis gave me, so I think I'll leave well alone!

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  • 170. At 11:01am on 07 Jan 2011, eeyore wrote:

    Re BigPharma #91.

    You are showing your ignorance. Measles does cause a rash, but it is not itchy.

    Your contributions are laughable at best, and dangerous at worst. I have looked at some of the leads you have given - as you don not post links to any peer reviewed articles. The leads invariably end up with either people trying to sell supplements, or to conspiracy websites. An example is given below. please note the antisemitic tone as

    "This shocking scene is familiar enough. We have watched endless movies of these atrocities, produced by victorious Jews who claim that these acts were really carried out by Nazis in Germany. The above scene, however, is not Germany in 1944. It is the United States, anywhere in this country, during the Great Swine Flu Massacre of 1976. Only the warped mind of the Jew could have conceived such a horror as celebrating the Bicentennial Year of the United States by carrying out a national campaign of genocide against its citizens, and by enlisting the President of the United States, Gerald Ford, to personally lead this campaign. Ford’s Folly, as it was later known, cost him re-election to the White House, as the suppressed information about the hundreds of victims slowly leaked out, but the true purpose of the campaign was a test run for a much more comprehensive national plan of "eliminating" "non-productive" citizens, which will be carried out at some later date."

    I don't know what your problem is. Though I can guess...

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  • 171. At 2:21pm on 08 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    Eyyore... donkey indeed.
    An utterly pointless post by a clueless idiot.

    From the NIH:

    Measles is an infectious disease caused by a virus. It spreads easily from person to person. The main symptom of measles is an itchy skin rash. The rash often starts on the head and moves down the body. Other symptoms include

    Runny nose
    Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
    Sometimes measles can lead to serious problems. There is no treatment for measles, but the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine can prevent it. You may have heard of "German measles", also known as rubella, which is a different illness altogether.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    Pick the conspiracy out of that one then!

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  • 172. At 2:22pm on 08 Jan 2011, BigPharma wrote:

    And why post a link to an article about Jews and Nazis??? What relevance is that to vaccines? Back in your box and stay there.

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  • 173. At 8:08pm on 08 Jan 2011, eeyore wrote:


    Dear BP

    I started with your suggestion that we search on "hawden vaccine fraud". The top entry on Google was

    I was stunned that anyone could base a scientific argument on such a flaky foundation.

    "In 1924, having applied his rejection of the germ theory of disease, and his refusal to use diphtheria anti-serum produced by inoculation of animals to the treatment of Nellie Burnham, a young girl, she died and he was tried for manslaughter by criminal medical negligence[1]. He was acquitted of all charges"

    I then went to the homepage and was faced with lists of similar content.

    My route was not complicated.


    The last was a link 3. above entitled "[1977] MURDER BY INJECTION THE GREAT SWINE FLU MASSACRE By Eustace Mullins"

    So there was logic to the way I browsed the site that I think you are familiar with.

    I base my comments on my experience as a GP.

    As to measles itching. The viral exthameta seen in childhood include rubella - German Measles - and Measles. Rubella does itch quite a bit but measles much less so generally because a child with measles is very ill and often delirious with the high fever. The first time I saw measles in my career was 2 years into my time as a GP, as at that time the disease was so rare. The child was so ill that I admitted her, in fear of meningitis/encephalitis which is a rare and devastating complication of measles.

    The other notable rash sometimes seen in children is Sixth Disease or Exanthema subitum. This is a viral disease which causes high fever and a non itching rash.

    Measles made a comeback after the MMR - Autism scare, due to the lack of herd immunity, which requires about 85% + coverage rates to be effective. For a time the uptake of MMR fell to 70% and as a result, there were local outbreaks of measles.

    "After the MMR vaccine controversy began, the MMR vaccination compliance dropped sharply in the United Kingdom, from 92% in 1996 to 84% in 2002. In some parts of London, it was as low as 61% in 2003, far below the rate needed to avoid an epidemic of measles[4]. By 2006 coverage for MMR in the UK at 24 months was 85%, lower than the about 94% coverage for other vaccines.[5]

    After vaccination rates dropped, the incidence of two of the three diseases increased greatly in the UK. In 1998 there were 56 confirmed cases of measles in the UK; in 2006 there were 449 in the first five months of the year, with the first death since 1992.[6] Cases occurred in inadequately vaccinated children.[6]. The age group affected was too old to have received the routine MMR immunizations around the time the paper by Wakefield et al. was published, and too young to have contracted the natural disease as a child, and thus to achieve a herd immunity effect. With the decline in infection that followed the introduction of the MMR vaccine, these individuals had not been exposed to the disease, but still had no immunity, either natural or vaccine induced. Therefore, as immunization rates declined following the controversy and the disease re-emerged, they were susceptible to infection.[7][8] Measles cases continued in 2006, at incidence rates 13 times greater than 1998 levels.[9] Two children were severely and permanently injured by measles encephalitis despite undergoing kidney transplantation in London.[10]

    Disease outbreaks also caused casualties in nearby countries. 1,500 cases and three deaths were reported in the Irish outbreak of 2000, which occurred as a direct result of decreased vaccination rates following the MMR scare.[10]

    In 2008, for the first time in 14 years, measles was declared endemic in the UK, meaning that the disease was sustained within the population. This was caused by the preceding decade's low MMR vaccination rates, which created a population of susceptible children who could spread the disease. In May 2008, a British 17-year-old with an underlying immunodeficiency died of measles"

    #172..."Back in your box and stay there"

    Why be cruel to us donkeys. We need something bigger than boxes to live in.

    Cheers, and I shall not be told what to do by you thank you.

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  • 174. At 04:39am on 10 Jan 2011, serendipity7000 wrote:

    With regard to herbalism. Unlike many other complementary therapies, medical herbalists complete 4 years full-time training in order to qualify. A GP (regular doctor) can qualify as a medical herbalist after 2 years training as they already have the anatomy and physiology experience. I have consulted qualifed herbalists before - one was both a GP and a herbalist, which was great, she could take bloods and prescribe herbs.

    There are some common herbal remedies that have been safe for generations that do not need prescribing - such as elderflower, peppermint. It is always best to get them prescribed by a medical herbalist (some are only available from a qualified herbalist as they are drugs and some have contra-indications and side effects or some can't be used in pregnancy). To self medicate you need a herb book which tells you which simple basic ones you can use without going to a herbalist - and will tell you any contraindications or side effects.

    I am not saying it can be a remedy or cure for swine flu as it is a new phenomena, but herbal medicine works to support the body and immune system, rather than just curing symptoms - it can be good to help prevent things. I am taking elderflower (antiviral), marshmallow (lung tonic), thyme (antiviral, antiseptic and antifungal) in a herbal tea. Thyme is one of the oldest remedies and tonics for all lung problems - just a simple garden herb. Also helps with asthma.

    Anyway - I hope it gives me some protection, as my Partner and I are now in a second 'wave' of flu, which we are assuming is swine flu as it is like nothing either of us has had before, and according to local news, the majority of flu cases in our area are swine flu. I am having unpleasant chest and breathing effects - off to docs tomorrow for antibiotics as a precaution - if I can get there - we have been laid up since Friday, but improving a bit. If I take antiobiotics I will stop the herbal tea - my general rule is - do one or the other - not both together - for safety - as drugs can interact. Unless you have the advice of a herbalist.

    I have also been taking homeopathic remedies of gelsemium (used for general flu), oscillococcinum (some people swear by this for flu) and a bi-weekly homeopathic swine flu prophylactic.

    I have no idea whether any of these have helped or not - I have had no fever, unlike my Partner who has a raging fever and raging throat. I have head and chest symptoms - the chest symptoms are the most unpleasant. But I feel like I am at least doing what I can to support my body and immune system. Am also taking vitamin C 500mg, Vitamin D3 and cod liver oil (Vits A,D and E).

    To clarify - in my opinion herbalism doesn't necessarily have a 'cure' but some things can help protect you. Homeopathy I do not know if it works or not - but it's worth a try if you can't have the vaccine.

    As an update, my Partner's ex insisted on the child staying her for four days over New Year. While we were only just getting over the worst of the flu from Christmas and it was exhausting. Thankfully his son has not contracted anything. But looking after a 3 year-old was exhausting, and we were still not 100% - second wave of the flu came on a week from symptoms subsiding - Partner had raging fever and throat again, I developed chest symptoms and extreme wooziness. 3 days now and we are having moments of normality. I have been told you can have a third wave before it gets out of your system.

    I have been scared as I am asthmatic and I know the lung effects can be very bad. I can't recommend anyone to go out and buy herbs and homoepathic medicines, but it might be worth consulting a herbalist to have something in if you go down with the flu, and/or to boost the immune system for a preventative.

    I read somewhere that swine flu can affect people differently and one lady said it seems to be focused on a current weakness. This seems to be the case with us - my Partner's weakness is his throat, mine is my lungs (asthma). So - support your weakness maybe?

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