Comments for en-gb 30 Tue 28 Jul 2015 16:13:15 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at weidartist I think the main issue with vaccines is that we (the general public) do not know exactly what is in them. I mean we are told its just a bit of dead/synthesised/etc flu/TB/etc. I am quite confident that vaccinations provide more protection than dangers/side effects. However I think the perceived opacity of ahem 'big Pharma' and the lack of general information (apart from scary websites) about the actual chemical compounds in that syringe are enough to worry anybody, especially those with a natural disposition for anti-authoritarian distrustful natures.Basically, vaccines are probably pretty safe (I trust them to provide protection from life threatening diseases) but because people are afraid of the unknown, you will always get people who are scared/opposed to them. Don't take it personally (specially any researchers/doctors on here, I definitely appreciate your work).I would be interested to know why news papers are suddenly reporting the exact strain of virus.. if it was 'normal' flu, we wouldn't care, we would barely hear the stats. Sun 09 Jan 2011 23:29:49 GMT+1 Sutara 68. keziacratchet.I'm quite interested actually in why this may be the case. In my opinion, I'm suspicious that the problem seems to be poor public health information and I think the NHS needs to explain better to "Jo Public" just why they might want to get the seasonal jab.Seasonal flu jabs seemed to work quite well with a fairly good uptake, until we had the swine flu jab.My view is that there has been much said about the seasonal jab containing vaccine against H1N1 - which as Fergus says seems to not be mutating. So surely some will conclude that if they had their "swine flu jab" in 2009, then it stands to reason that they have been vaccinated against that strain and, therefore, don't really need another seasonal one. And perhaps even, in the mode of the British Tommy, some would even think, that will free up a vaccine dose for someone who needs it more than me.Hang on, actually, why wouldn't people think that? Who has publicly stated that stance to be wrong?One of the biggest problems with all this stuff is engaging the public. THAT is the real key to public health. Not facts and figures or technical and medical arguments, but just connecting with and engaging the public. In the final analysis, you can have the greatest preventative programme in the world, or even the most effective of cures, but if no-one actually takes them then they won't have any impact on the level of disease.And yes, in this economic climate where people are increasingly scared or just under too much pressure to take time off work to get medical treatments, even preventative ones, we need to do more to make it as easy and as feasible as possible for individuals to access the services we seek to deliver in the interest of public health. Sat 01 Jan 2011 01:45:52 GMT+1 Questionsaplenty2 I think the graphs are quite reassuring that by the end of January it appears we will be able to relax a lot more as we should be well into the decline - historically a typical flu wave duration being 12 weeks. Furthermore, todays figures that have just been reported on news-sites of 738 current cases in hospital beds compared with 460 last week (which in turn was more than double the previous week of 182) seems to go along with the theory that we are seeing a reduction in the rate of increase in cases which is a sign we are possibly getting close to the peak. Hopefully we will not see a new surge as the children return to school because schools were previously hit hard by the last wave and hopefully some herd immunity will prevent that. Fri 31 Dec 2010 13:58:43 GMT+1 Questionsaplenty2 That was the link to this weeks reports.This is the one to this week's graphs: Fri 31 Dec 2010 12:04:35 GMT+1 Questionsaplenty2 HPA report/ graphs/ results are out today if anyone is interested: Fri 31 Dec 2010 12:03:03 GMT+1 angelscomeinthrees Tinkerbell, it's weird, isn't it? My GP takes the view that once they have done everything they can to vaccinate those in the 'at risk' categories then they will be open-minded about vaccinating others, not least because stopping the spread in the wider community also protects the vulnerable who haven't had the vaccine. The nurse who vaccinated me did say that she didn't feel there was much point in having a flu jab after the end of December but then she also said she thought sf was done and dusted. I really don't understand what is going on; even if GPs felt that the vaccine needed to be rationed (which is a bit daft once we are in a full-blown flu season) why refuse to vaccinate people (inc. children) who are very clearly at risk? Is there some kind of cost issue? (and I ask that as someone who thinks GPs are wonderful).With regards to your family, yes flu can show up differently in different people but maybe your nephew's mum has a secondary infection that has laid her flat such as sinusitis or a middle ear infection. It's always worth ruling out a bacterial cause if a 'mild' illness is causing nasty symtoms esp. as there may be a tendency at the moment to label anything as 'flu'. Fri 31 Dec 2010 11:21:59 GMT+1 Tinkerbellbobby3 I am Reading too many comments from vulnerable people stating that they can't get the vaccination. This is a disgrace, this should have been sorted out months ago before the flu season hit. Why hasn't more been done when they knew swine flu would be coming back this year? There seems to be no planning to this at all. The GP's are probably thinking there is no point in vaccinating now when we are prob only a few weeks from the peak. Why can't entitled people who are at risk get the jab when they need it? It seems like flu is everywhere. And it's strange how it affects everyone differently. We met my husbands family at Xmas and my nephew had a rotten cold. His mum is now in bed, flat out can't move with what must be full blown flu. Fri 31 Dec 2010 10:42:54 GMT+1 kittenbob Gosh, DocJ's comment has worried me. So there's a good chance that my son's GP is rationing flu vaccines. If having a cyanotic (single ventricle) heart condition and a letter from a consultant stating he needs seasonal flu vaccinations isn't enough to automatically be on the list for a vaccine, what is?Thank goodness I'm aware enough and confident enough to have argued my case to get him vaccinated, not everyone would be in a position to do this. Thu 30 Dec 2010 17:55:32 GMT+1 keziacratchet There has been a lot in the media about a slow take up of the flu vaccination. I recall, Fergus, that before Christmas you reported on this. Reports have tended to suggest that this is a patient issue and that the flu jab is readily available at GP surgeries.We returned from a long holiday away from the UK at the end of November. While we were away our local surgery sent letters to my husband asking that he make an appointment for s serious illness review and flu jab. When we got back to the UK at the end of November he immediately contacted the surgery and was told he could attend for the health check but he was too late for the flu jab. The surgery were no longer enabling administering the flu vaccination. I doubt this is an isolated case. Thu 30 Dec 2010 17:38:09 GMT+1 Tinkerbellbobby3 Brilliant Skyline, thanks again. Very much appreciated. I think even the DM is toning it down now ( I read it online for my sins - one of many - does not represent my views lol ) I think its helped a lot as the BBC have been giving the flu good balanced coverage and even the newspaper articles that are intended to frighten have no substance when you look closer. I am seeing a lot of people around me at work etc go down with flu at the moment, and oddly enough not the same people who had it last year. There is an awful bug going round at the mo, my youngest had it before xmas, which was sore throat, temp, cough, sickness, the trots, cold, aches and pains, even pain in her eyes, she was ill for over a week. A lot of her school friends had it before they broke up. It was almost like flu, she was knocked right out. But again, we were told last year she'd had the swine flu, so - ive decided that you treat them as you normally would when they are ill and not dwell. We are much healthier (mentally) than last year Angel. lol And I feel better this year thanks to the ongoing blog and sensible posts from you all and Skyline. Have a Happy New Year Guys. Stay safe and well. Thu 30 Dec 2010 15:37:06 GMT+1 angelscomeinthrees Hi, Grannie,Now I know where that feather went!;-)If your cough is dry then I would say that moist air will be best. I'm sure you are doing this anyway but placing damp towels (changed daily) or bowls of water over radiators will stop the air becoming dry. I'd also give the steamy kitchen/bathroom a try.If you've got them make sure that you add antiseptic herbs to your soup - sage, rosemary and thyme.My kids are sleeping for England, and they have actually turned down a trip to the shops! Unheard of. Get better soon, Grannie.(very interested to read Skyline's post once it clears the mods...) Thu 30 Dec 2010 13:42:36 GMT+1 SkylineOnFire Just a quick thought or two.France is currently in a technical "epidemic" I.e it's passed the threshold for cases per 100,000 people per week that makes it so. According to French statistics there have been 176,000 recorded influenza cases in the past week. This is the bare minimum, as we discussed before, the true number will be many times more than that per week, since the majority of flu sufferers don't contact any healthcare services, or are asymptomatic etc.... They have had 2 deaths so far confirmed. So they have more flu cases recorded, yet only 2 deaths, out of the 176,000 cases. Yet we have had nearly 30, and have less weekly cases than France. Which leads me to believe the true number of cases in the UK is far higher than the figures are showing.We already knew the figures were on the low side, as they only record people who contact the health services. If we work on the French recorded case fatality ratio, of 2 in every 176,000...176,000 divided by 2 = 88,00027 recorded UK deaths27 times 88,000 = 2,376,000 So the number of cases in the past few weeks, going by the French statistics, would be around two and a half million. That sounds much more realistic. Quite honestly I think the peak will be hit next week for recorded cases, with a gradual fall through January. Obviously I'm no "virology expert" that the daily mail seems to have queueing outside its offices to give "expert views on the killer virus" but I do believe the peak has pretty much already been hit, purely beacuse of the sheer number of cases of influenza in the UK at the moment. In the 2009 outbreak, the government statistics say around 1 in 3 contracted swine flu, with around 500 deaths I belive? Out of 62 million people on our islands, lets say 20 million caught swine flu last year, make it an easier to work with number. 20,000,000 divided by 500 = 40,000So the case fatality ratio last year of swine flu was around 1 in 40,000 according to official statistics. Far higher than the French case fatality ratio as of now, but you cant really go that far into the figures and details at this stage, all you need to do is look at it generally and make your own conclusions, the statistics are a rough guide at the moment for this year, as its a developing situation. Also it pays to remember that last year, the 1 in 3 people who contracted swine flu, were the super spreaders. They were the schoolkids, the bus drivers, the nurses, the people who put themselves in the midst of others the most. The virus hasn't changed. There are slight shifts that enable a small minority of people to become re infected, although this is a rare occurence and certainly not the norm. And this isnt some swine flu specific trait either, it happens in every variety of seasonal influenza. Hence why if you had flu 10 years ago, you can catch it again now, or if your unlucky, every year! The vaccine doesnt offer 100 percent protection no, but it certainly makes you very unlikely to catch influenza, and if you do catch it, it should be significantly milder too. Take care everyone, and try and relax! I understand what health anxiety is like, and I know anyone who hasnt suffered from it cant possibly understand just how real and terrifying it feels. Have a good new year, and of course any questions or anything of the sort, let me know as always. Thu 30 Dec 2010 13:32:41 GMT+1 sensiblegrannie hello angel,I found a little white feather by the kettle ;-)The cough is the dry paroxysmal sort and antibiotics would not be of any use in this case. Strangely, I have had an hour or so without coughing which is such a relief because my ribs hurt every time.What I am doing:Maintaining a warm room temperature keeping well wrapped upSipping boiled warm water when the coughing startsBoiling all water for drinking.Sleeping as soon as I feel tiredgetting a few jobs done during the none-tired momentsdrinking my star anise slammer (green tea. star anise. (lemsip during the first two days). fresh chilli. root ginger. manuka honey, fresh lemon slice) all served up in a one serving coffee plunger pot.eating as normal but eating more fruit with red coloured skin such as plums peaches and pomegranatedrinking chicken broth with star aniseand now I am off to make some strong garlic and onion soup followed by..... more sleep Thu 30 Dec 2010 12:54:07 GMT+1 angelscomeinthrees Oh, yuck, Grannie! Sounds like you probably need to see your GP, maybe it's time for some antibiotics.When I was pregnant and fluey I used both honey and chocolate (looks like the boffins have finally caught up with me on the latter ;)), just as and when I needed it. However if you feel very congested I have heard good reports of eating a very, very hot curry. Maybe you could get a delivery and leave the money outside? Once you feel a little better you can't beat home-made onion and garlic soup with some wine or brandy added for a kick. Apparently an old Russian cure is to inhale the steam from garlic infused in boiling water and allowed to cool a little. You could also try making a garlic and honey cough syrup by infusing crushed garlic in honey and then straining it.Obviously for children who get croupy the advice is to sit in a warm, moist atmosphere; I sit in the kitchen with them with a big pan of water boiling on the stove and top it up as and when. I have no idea if warm moisture is good for chesty coughs (obviously cold moisture isn't) - maybe someone else can tell us more!The only thing that makes me doubt if my family have had sf over Chrsitams is the lack of a chesty cough, although they are all coughing it is as a result of nasal drip. Thu 30 Dec 2010 10:13:05 GMT+1 sensiblegrannie I have lost track of time over the last couple of days or so, due to flu. The coughing is the worst part and the second worst part is the lack of energy. Is there anything I can concoct from the kitchen cupboard to relieve the severity of the coughing attacks? Obviously I am not going to stagger off to the chemist in this state ;-) I have tried glycerine and honey but it doesn't do much (I raided my cake decorating ingredients for the glycerine) The coughing is so severe that I worry I might strain something or collapse a lung. With a coughing attack, I bring my knees up to reduce the strain on my abdominal muscles and I try to huff rather than cough when my body allows it. Thu 30 Dec 2010 08:58:48 GMT+1 sussexjools Questionsaplenty2 - see for a possible clinic providing seasonal flu vaccinations to adults and children, without the need to prove an underlying medical condition. Wed 29 Dec 2010 21:46:36 GMT+1 haufdeed 50. At 10:17pm on 28 Dec 2010, LZT1 wrote:I don't have any axe to grind, but a bit of accuracy- on both sides!- always helps. You say: "100 of the 100 vaccinated will not catch the strain for which they were vaccinated."Now maybe I'm making this up, but I recall being taught that no vaccine gives 100% protection. For flu I seem to recall a figure of 80/90% protection.Statements such as that quoted above make me wonder how accurate your other statements are. Wed 29 Dec 2010 21:35:41 GMT+1 diffusa Hi again Fergus and everyone! I have found an answer to my earlier question! See the WHO update of 17 December at it says: Available data indicate that the currently circulating strain of the H1N1 (2009) virus in the UK is epidemiologically and virologically similar to that observed last year during the influenza H1N1 2009 pandemic. All influenza viruses characterized to date have been found to be similar to the strains currently included in the seasonal influenza trivalent vaccine. So it is 'so far so good' and the current vaccine shold work for many (though of course not all...) Keeeep watching though as these little devils can mutate! Wed 29 Dec 2010 18:35:39 GMT+1 angelscomeinthrees Hi, Tinkerbell, how are you and yours this year? My children are on the mend, thanks, still very tired but the temps finally seem under control. If anyone it's my other half who is struggling to throw the virus off. Is it sf? Who knows. How annoying was the DM front page today? (spotted on a garage forecourt, we do not allow it in Angel Towers, let me tell you). Luckily I remember how far wide of the mark the DM was last year and do not take anything it says seriously.I think that both the weather and Christmas are having a big effect. At A&E when the weather was at its worst they were swamped because of lack of staff; the ambulance that took our son in couldn't get up our lane so we had to walk through the snow to get to him, and the driver had to keep changing route because the roads were so bad. So I suspect that people didn't try to get to a GP because of the weather also and maybe have been seeking treatment once they got quite poorly. Also we saw people leaving A&E without being seen because they wouldn't wait. And of course flu loves the cold; we were told that most admissions were babies with bronchiolosis. But then our son was on the surgical ward and some of the children there had been in hospital a long, long time and we were really very lucky.When we were in on Xmas Eve it was really quiet but then got really busy as we were leaving. Apparently people try to avoid going to hospital over Xmas and there is a rush late on as people realise they can't manage at home.Questions, one of the docs who posts here said that if you want the vaccine talk to your GP and if you have a valid reason then your GP should listen. I find it really weird that some GPs are being so dogmatic. Re HA, my mum was exactly the same as you, she was terrified about what would happen to me if she died. Whereas I know my kids will cope, they are so resiliant and far tougher than I am! Not that I expect either to happen any time soon. :)Given that I've been vaccinated and am fine when everyone else isn't I must have been protected against something. My parents - both in their 60's - visited to help out and so far they are okay, too. :) Wed 29 Dec 2010 18:13:42 GMT+1 Questionsaplenty2 Mods:I seem to have become a new member again and have to wait for my posts to be moderated despite last year and recently posting several times and having moved beyond New Member status previously...can you please look into whether this should be happening - thanks Wed 29 Dec 2010 15:46:35 GMT+1 Questionsaplenty2 Well they have just anounced on the BBC site a 50% increase in cases identified by GPs this week. Although an increase, this is actually a slow down in acceleration of the virus (which more than doubled last week)and if correct, it could show that we are getting closer to the top of this winter's peak. Of course being Christmas, many people couldn't get to a GP so it may be distorted...but I am trying to stay optimistic and hope that they are basing their figures on a proportion of what the patients they have seen are presenting with rather than total numbers of patients, in which cases the results should be proportionatly valid. Also, looking at the graph they show, by the end of December, we are 4 weeks into the virus and by the end January, from looking at previous flu graphs (including the last swine flu outbreak) we should be well into the decline in numbers of cases per 100,000! (Most outbreaks lasting 12-14 weeks intotal :) )Also for those of us with children between 5 and 15 who might like our children vaccinated but who will probably have difficulty getting access to vaccine for them; if we take Fergus's figures above and average the number of deaths per year in that age group (ie 17 divided by 11) and do the same with all the other age groups and compare them; the number of deaths for 5-15 year olds is actually much smaller per age year then any other age although we are told it is attacking younger people than other flu's, generally the 5-15 year olds are holding up well which comforts me a little.Angel - thats wonderful your doc is being so open minded. I have some elderberry stuff in reserve too ;-), just in case! Maybe my family should all take the daily preventative dose though, not a bad idea! Re the fear of death thing, part of my HA revolves around how my kids would cope without me too, so in that way my death becomes an issue too. LZT - I agree with 99% of what you say, but I believe there was reported that one of the recent deaths was actually from a patient who had received both last years swine flu vaccine as well as this years flu vaccine...but hopefully this sad case is rare. Conversely, I know someone who's whole family caught it except her and she was the only one vaccinated! Wed 29 Dec 2010 15:44:27 GMT+1 DisgustedOfMitcham2 Fergus, do you have any information on whether there is enough vaccine around to vaccinate everyone in risk groups? I see there are one or two posts above from people saying that they were in risk groups and couldn't get vaccinated.My girlfriend has asthma, which I'm sure used to be considered a risk factor, but her GP refused to vaccinate her, saying that he didn't believe asthma to be a risk factor any more.It's not surprising take-up of the vaccine is low if GPs are refusing to vaccinate people in risk groups. Wed 29 Dec 2010 13:20:20 GMT+1 magnificentpolarbear I used to be a GP Practice Manager so can comment on the following1. We (and many other practices) wrote to ALL patients in the 'at-risk' groups OFFERING these patients the vaccine. For my practice this was about 2,500 people (out of a list of 14,000) so even just printing and putting the letters in envelopes is a mammoth task let alone the practicalities of running large and multiple flu vaccine clinics to stop 'normal' appointments being filled simply by people wanting to be vaccinated. Flu clinics are a lot of extra work but are ideal for vaccinating lots of people in a very short time.2. We then after a few weeks into the campaign, write again a 'reminder' letter to those that have not yet been vaccinated, again offering the vaccine. However the vaccine is not COMPULSORY. We can only offer and remind people plus any more that two letters starts to look like we are 'hounding' people. I know some practices also phone people too but we chose not to - too many out of date phone numnbers because patients didn't tell us their new ones!3. we put posters in the waiting room and alerts on the non attenders computer records as a reminder to staff that Mr X has not yet been vaccinated. If a patient refused the vaccine we recorded this and out system then removed the reminder.4. There are 3 WHO mandated flu strains put in the vaccine. There are many other flu strains so it is still possible to catch one of these other strains even if you have been vaccinated.5. Lots of people have reactions (temps etc)to ANY vaccination. It's not specific to the flu vaccination.6. The vaccine is not 100% effective but the immune reaction is such that if you are unfortunare enough to catch the flu the symptoms etc will dissapear much more quickly.7. Flu vaccine is not a 'live' vaccine so you cannot catch the flu from the vaccination.8. Such is the time taken to make the vaccine most practices will be putting in their likely orders for 2011 season now!The vast majority of GP practices spend an awful lot of time and effort in organising and planning their flu campaigns BUT we also have to rely on patients taking up the OFFER of the vaccination. We also need patients to tell us if they have moved. One patient got very abusive when she alledged that we had denied her the vaccine because we hadn't written to her - threatening us with the papers, her MP and the GMC. Turns out she had moved and had not told us - now whos fault is it that she didn't get the letter? Wed 29 Dec 2010 11:25:21 GMT+1 Tinkerbellbobby3 Hi angels, hope you and the family are well. Yes the DM has a lot to answer for. They are stating in their paper that although the virus hasn't mutated, people seem to be getting more poorly this year with more patients being admitted with breathing problems. Why are the intensive care numbers so high?Are the hospitals using relenza intraveniously like last year? If the seasonal flu virus changes every year how is it that they say this one is still the same? Wed 29 Dec 2010 10:29:45 GMT+1 GillieBollie Once again I am reading these posts with interest. And once again the paranoia has started. You can get flu jabs from Boots or Tesco - I had mine a week ago. Rather than moaning go ahead and get it done! Please stop posting ridiculous information on here - you're just making people panic even more! Wed 29 Dec 2010 00:38:53 GMT+1 Carol Gould Chloe in France (30) thank you for your good wishes. It is 28 December and I am still feeling awful. The gastric flu has gone but I am now having the most awful nightmares and headaches. I intend having my white blood count taken as I cannot see how I can start chemo feeling so weak and wretched. I am a sound sleeper and never get headaches so this new malady must be something to do with the two bouts of severe 'flu after the jab. Tue 28 Dec 2010 23:19:04 GMT+1 LZT1 AL:A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and unfortunately in your case it seems when coupled with paranoia and hysteria about "Big Pharma) it is even more dangerous.Not sure where you are getting your "information" from but I think you are making a lot of things up based on your own personal opinions and theories.1. "When are BBC journalists going to wise up to the medical profession?"Do you really think the "medical profession" are out to get us? Because if so that is grade 1 paranoia.2. "Of the people dying this year of H1N1 flu, how many had the vaccine last year?"It would appear to be zero. Also the vaccine is generally good for one year so a further shot is often required. That is why we get the "seasonal" shot every year. Didn't you figure that out?3. "The reason why there is much more swine flu around this year is obvious to anyone that starts from the perspective of an 'open mind'."We could call it paranoia too!4. "Your report says that 'Influenza is a vaccine-preventable disease'. Show me the piece of research that has ever proved this? Have you read it yourself? How do you know this?"It is a basic fact that Influenza is a vaccine preventable disease.Medical reporters have medically qualified advisers to ensure the veracity of their reports.But hey, they must be in cahoots, what with being members of the medical profession and all eh?5. "The reason that there is more flu around this year is obvious. Last year, the medical profession along with big pharma poisoned 70% of over 65's with the flu vaccine along with numerous other youngsters."Ok now this is beyond pseudo-science, made up theories and grade 1 paranoia. You've reached the level of pathology with this nonsense. That's no pun intended...5. "Do your homework."It is clear they already have. Fortunately the paranoid are not given jobs as journalists!6. "Find out how many people of those that have died this year had the vaccine last year."It is well known that the figure is zero.7. "Find out how many last year had the vaccine and STILL got swine flu this year (even if they didn't die)."Again zero, except in the cases where the vaccine had not fully taken effect when they were infected, the vaccine generally needs 1-2 weeks to totally protect your body. These cases are extremely rare.8. "You'll find out the effective rate of vaccination is approximately 1%.....that is for every 100 people that receive the vaccine"Now you have descended to complete fabrication. You have totally made this up and it's laughable.9. "1 person will not eventually catch the strain for which they were vaccinated."Wrong, in those vaccinated in time (that is, not infected within a week or so of being vaccinated), 100 of the 100 vaccinated will not catch the strain for which they were vaccinated.That is a basic fact.10. "If the whole nation received 5000 units of Vitamin D daily" it is well established that *megadosing* on Vitamin D3 is neither effective to that extent, nor safe. Vitamin D is generally safe and does help strengthen the immune system, but levels above 800-1000iu (20-25mg) per day, such as 5000iu (!) are approaching toxinc and can cause health problems of their own. Levels over those above are also basically pointless.11. "during the winter months (from October to March) free of charge you would see massive improvements to the nation's health."You are right and wrong here. It would be fantastic to receive Vitamin D free of charge, sure. But for one thing, why only during the winter months? It should ideally be taken year round. Vitamin D will protect against many other serious health problems also.However, all the Vitamin D in the world isn't going to stop you from developing influenza if you are infected with the virus.You can see that hundreds of thousands of people in year round hot sunny climates where they receive huge doses of natural Vitamin D from the sunshine still get all strains of influenza and thousands worldwide have died from H1N1 "swine flu".The only thing that can prevent you from being infected with the virus in the first place is the vaccine, and it has a practically 100% rate of effectiveness.Finally, the cost of Vitamin D at 125mg per person in the country would be astronomical.12. " The cost would be minimal as Vitamin D is not a drug to be exploited by big pharma (there is no patentable product). Why is this not done?"Come on you can't be serious. Just because something can't be patented doesn't mean it's going to cost next to nothing. You can't patent apples either, but the government could hardly hand out daily free apples to 62 million people for 3 months of the year.And in any case neither vitamin D nor fruit while important, will protect you from being infected with influenza. Only the vaccine will do that.13. " Simple, it would impact on big pharma's profits"Do you really believe that "big pharma" (here we go again) make that much money from a simple vaccine? There is hardly any profit in it, and at £7.99 from your supermarket, once one has factored in all costs there is less than £1 profit in it for them.And for what? We are getting something that can save us from days of sickness, poor health, knock on health problems and potentially even death from a simple safe vaccine. We are not being ripped off, we are getting something very valuable for our money.14. " and would save the nation a fortune on the annual NHS budget."The NHS doesn't provide the vaccine free of charge to everybody. If we are not in a "high risk group" it is our own responsibility to get ourselves vaccinated, and for less than the price of a pizza it's a veritable bargain.15 " And the last thing the medical profession wants to see is a healthier nation....the business is in chronic disease 'management' (ie. keeping a proportion of the population permanantly ill rather that cured). "Not only pure paranoia.....but this also destroys your own argument.Don't you think that the evil medical profession and evil big pharma would make more money treating sick people than from preventing them from getting sick with influenza in the first place?Also, perhaps you have forgotten than in the UK (and many other countries) we have a "National Health Service" so there is no gain for the "medical profession" in wanting us all to get sick so they could engage in "disease management".Resources are limited so it behooves them to keep us out of hospitals and clinics, and in general Drs and other healthcare practitioners in the NHS do not make any more money whether they see 1000 patients or 10.So do you really believe that they are out to make sure we all get sick?Because by encouraging us to get the flu vaccine they are doing the exact opposite.Are you even suggesting that the flu vaccine is going to make us ill?Come on! Tue 28 Dec 2010 22:17:55 GMT+1 angelscomeinthrees Yes, Tinkerbell, I know that the Mail had an article about how the 'unproven' sf element of this years' flu jab removed 'patient choice' - backed up by some patient group or other - and as a consequence I also know someone who hasn't had the flu jab this year. I believe in a belt and braces approach - vaccination/allopathic medicine backed up with natural immune boosters and a good diet. Tue 28 Dec 2010 21:12:06 GMT+1 Tinkerbellbobby3 Skyline, thanks once again for providing figures. Certainly puts it all into context. Amanda, I hope very much that your brother is better very soon. Re the last post, those who shout loudest.... You do whatever you think you can to protect your child. I know a lot of people who have had the vaccination and it is generally through forums and the Internet as to why so many people still aren't immune. Too many people are afraid to get vaccinated. Unless you really know whst you are talking about you shouldn't be persuading people not to take up a vaccination. Your posts may have conseqences. Tue 28 Dec 2010 20:14:23 GMT+1 nickus my daughter who is 4yrs old has had pneumonia twice is she eligable for the swineflu jab. thanks. Tue 28 Dec 2010 18:01:35 GMT+1 angelscomeinthrees Grannie, thank you, I can't remember the last time I had a decent sleep. But teh children are getting better each day which is better than sleep. :-)Questions, the hardest thing about being a mum in my experience is the fact that our children are mortal. My own death I'm cool with (so long as it doesn't hurt too much) but theirs...Like you I had a horrendous time following the flu jab. Temp of 39, aching muscles, sleeping a lot - oddly though my head felt clear whereas I usually get 'foggy' with most viruses.I'm getting in a supply of elderberry extract and vit D - I've found a kids' multivit that has elderberry in as well. Although I do feel confident in the vaccine (I'm not ill when everyone else is so it's protected me against something) I'm well aware that there are plenty of other things I can catch - and the kids as well. I'm lucky in that our GP will vaccinate our kids because although they aren't in any defined high-risk category the fact that they all get high temps and sometimes end up in hospital with viral infections means he's happy to prevent this from happening. I wouldn't be surprised if we see more private clinics opening this service up in the New Year though.Serendipity, I'm no expert (just a mum of 3) but your partner could have any number of things that are causing his temp and I doubt whether any doctor could give a firm diagnosis unless he has something like an ear infection. With regards to his little boy, I can only tell you the advice I was given when my husband had seasonal flu which was for him to avoid all contact with the children until it had passed. It's certainly true that children need to be exposed to a range of bugs in order to build up their immunity but equally it isn't recommended to knowingly expose them to something that could make them quite poorly. FWIW I packed my husband off to the spare room and he didn't pass flu on to the children or me. Hope your partner gets better soon.And best wishes to everyone else on this blog who has poorly loved ones right now, hope they all recover speedily. Tue 28 Dec 2010 17:39:16 GMT+1 Megan Why does everyone get so heated over flu and vaccination?According to my GP I'm supposed to get vaccinated because I had a stroke 3 years ago... but as I haven't had flu since childhood or even a cold for about 5 years (and I'm high risk of catching them, being a teacher) I don't see much point. Tue 28 Dec 2010 17:16:14 GMT+1 Questionsaplenty2 angels - thanks for your reply... you make some good points. H1N1 definitely brings out existing health fears/anxiety about health and death. Please let us know if you find anywhere that will actually vaccinate low-risk under 18s.Well I had the flu vaccine 6 days ago and have been feeling wiped out and exhausted ever since. Not sure if it is the vaccine or not, but if it is, guess it means something is working. Tue 28 Dec 2010 17:02:33 GMT+1 Eleanor Yes thank you Fergus. Do you happen to know what the protocol is this year please? I mean - last year there was a number to call and they would authorise Tamiflu. Do we just contact a pharmacy direct for Tamiflu this year.Update on Partner's little boy. His Mother refuses to cancel his access visit to us and insists he comes for the five days as she has plans. Apparently the child has been vaccinated. But my Partner has also been vaccinated and he still got flu. Child's Mother insists vaccine is foolproof. So now we have a new dilemma. My Partner says child should be Ok and if he did get it, it would be milder (as with him - although I don't call a temperature of 39 degrees mild). I am unsure whether the 80 to 90% success rate means that someone would get it milder, or just have no protection at all if in the 20% bracket. I still feel it is too risky. Also children are supposed to have some of the worst symptoms aren't they? Their immune system less developed.It would really help if we could get a proper diagnosis - is it swine flu or some other flu? I am tempted to take Partner to casualty and ask for a test. But we're not supposed to be in contact with people if suspect swine flu, or go out. But can't get hold of a Doctor either.I guess we'll have to try to get to see a Doctor tomorrow morning as an emergency (not due to have little boy arrive till 2pm). Tue 28 Dec 2010 13:59:58 GMT+1 Chloe-in-france It still amazes me that so many people put so much faith in the 'flu vaccine. Without going into the debate about whether or not it is safe my queston is this: How can there be a vaccination that is effective against a constantly changing (not mutating!) virus that exists in so many forms? It is not like measles or polio, for example, which have been almost eradicated thanks to vaccination. By giving annual 'flu vaccinations to 'at risk' groups the medical profession is in danger of suppressing the natural immune system. Therefore, people who have received doses on a yearly basis are less likly to have the natural ability to resist if they are attacked by a virus that wasn't 'covered' bythe current year's vaccine. Like Al (#37) I wonder why more isn't done to encourage natural ways to boost your immune system and well done Serendipidy (#40) for giving homeopathic and natural remedies a go. I don't think there's anything that will actually cure a cold or flu once you get it but, hopefully, it will make the symptoms less severe.Also, I hope your partner soon feels better. Obviously, with a case as serious as pneumonia you need medical support but it's worth having natural antivirals on hand such as oregano oil, olive leaf extract etc. for times when the medical profession 'isn't available'. The best solution of all is to try to avoid catching anything by keeping yourself well dosed with vitamins C and D and other antivirals and, of course, observing good hygiene by washing hands frequently, covering your face when you cough and sneeze etc. Tue 28 Dec 2010 13:59:42 GMT+1 diffusa This update is appreciated - and no worries about the stats Fergus; keep them coming! This may be the same H1N1 flu as last year but these viruses can mutate at any time. Can you keep your ear to the ground and let us know when it does? The Government tends to keep this type of thing to themselves so as not to 'panic' us but really - when it does mutate - we need to rethink our precautions and make informed decisions until it becomes clear what we are up against. You make a good point about many people contracting it but having few, mild or no symptoms - surely it could be very useful to understand why they do not succumb so that we can find new ways to avoid it? Vaccination is merely one method and alas is always one step behind but do some people have other 'natural' defences that we should be researching?It is probably a good idea if we do ourselves and those trying to work on this a favour and drop our craving for 'certainties' and clear cut answers. It isn't helpful and we humans really need to be pulling together in this battle against the virus...Best wishes to you all and RIP James Niven Tue 28 Dec 2010 12:12:21 GMT+1 Eleanor Well - it is impossible to get medical advice on a bank holiday. We have called two doctors surgeries and the local hospital drop-in centre - all calls are diverted to NHS111 - where we wait in a queue for about half an hour each time before the call just ends. And - if this is swine flu you are not supposed to go to A&E but to stay indoors.My Partner has had flu since Christmas Eve - high fever. He had the combined flu and swine flu jab this autumn. I have mild symptoms at the moment. I haven't had any vaccinations. I am high risk (asthmatic) but was told I couldn't have the jab due to having had anaphylaxis in the past. Our dilemma is - we are supposed to be picking up my Partner's 3 year old son tomorrow, to come and stay for 5 days. If it is normal flu, he will be infection free within 48 hours of the temperature going down. If it is swine flu he could be infectious for much longer after temperature has gone down. As we cannot access a Doctor, or a health centre or any other kind of medical call-out, we have had to make the decision to cancel his son's stay with us as a safety precaution.It is outrageous that you cannot call an out of hours Doctor on a bank holiday, when swine flu is going around! Or even get to speak to anyone at all. What we need is a test to confirm whether it is swine flu or not, to determine whether or not we can have contact with people or go back to work etc. My Partner is a Farmer - he doesn't get sick leave.As I was told I couldn't have the vaccination I decided to have some homeopathic remedies to hand. On the day my Partner went down with the high temperature we both felt ill and with bad heads - I took the preventative homeopathic 'oral vaccine' and also the homeopathic flu remedy. I have no idea if this has had any effect or not, or whether it has anything to do with my symptoms being mild (no temperature but feeling like I have flu) - or whether I am just brewing up for it. I have also been drinking elderflower tea (an antiviral apparently). It gives me peace of mind to think there is something I can do that might help a bit - and if it doesn't help - well better than doing nothing. I am not worried however - if I get it I get it. We are all vulnerable. My Partner's 3 year-old has not been offered a swine flu jab.What concerns us is that my Partner, who had pneumonia last year, has had the vaccines and still has flu. Apparently the vaccine is 80% to 90% effective - so not foolproof. Tue 28 Dec 2010 11:19:45 GMT+1 lizzieg My son is 4, he was not able to get TAMIFLU because there is none in stock for his age range. We finally got it 2 days too late. I understand from our hub chemist that Roche are supplying chemists direct because the government have still not placed an order for Tamiflu as at Wednesday 22nd Dec. Roche have a stock pile for when the govt order so they can meet their order, and in the meantime its up to us, the electorate to do the best we can. We've been fortunate so far, its in his lungs but not severely. I don't think this should have been the situation that faced us. Mon 27 Dec 2010 20:17:49 GMT+1 sensiblegrannie I see the debate is hotting up again and I see some of you posted on Christmas day.I am going down with a cold/flue right now after staying at my daughter's house on Christmas day. However, I might have caught this bug after sitting next to a woman on a crammed-packed bus, who was coughing continuously and did not cover her mouth even once. Angel, you must be tired out and you are right in the firing line of these 'orrible bugs. Have you managed to get any rest at all?The vaccine appears to be rationed and it does not appear to be as available to all of the high risk groups as is suggested in the advertising. My son has not been offered the vaccine and he is one of the listed risk groups. Still, we won't push for the vaccine as there are many who will need it more urgently. This year I was more concerned about the combination of severe weather and vulnerable people unable to go out to top up their meters and buy essentials + risk of hypothermia combined with the risk of flu. If a care worker goes off sick, who replaces them to do the daily essential duties? Mon 27 Dec 2010 18:53:59 GMT+1 Al When are BBC journalists going to wise up to the medical profession? As John Pilger complained about the reporting of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the 'embedding' of journalists) this last report failed to ask ONE crucial question.Of the people dying this year of H1N1 flu, how many had the vaccine last year?The reason why there is much more swine flu around this year is obvious to anyone that starts from the perspective of an 'open mind'.Your report says that 'Influenza is a vaccine-preventable disease'.Show me the piece of research that has ever proved this? Have you read it yourself? How do you know this?The reason that there is more flu around this year is obvious. Last year, the medical profession along with big pharma poisoned 70% of over 65's with the flu vaccine along with numerous other youngsters.Do your homework. Find out how many people of those that have died this year had the vaccine last year. Find out how many last year had the vaccine and STILL got swine flu this year (even if they didn't die). You'll find out the effective rate of vaccination is approximately 1%.....that is for every 100 people that receive the vaccine, 1 person will not eventually catch the strain for which they were vaccinated. If the whole nation received 5000 units of Vitamin D daily during the winter months (from October to March) free of charge you would see massive improvements to the nation's health. The cost would be minimal as Vitamin D is not a drug to be exploited by big pharma (there is no patentable product). Why is this not done? Simple, it would impact on big pharma's profits and would save the nation a fortune on the annual NHS budget. And the last thing the medical profession wants to see is a healthier nation....the business is in chronic disease 'management' (ie. keeping a proportion of the population permanantly ill rather that cured). Mon 27 Dec 2010 13:51:44 GMT+1 angelscomeinthrees Well, the virus that landed my son in hospital last week has gone through the rest of the family and we spent Christmas Eve at A&E with my younger daughter who had a temp of 40. Interestingly the virus has gone right to everyone's weakest points; so one daughter has an ear infection and the other tonsillitis, my son got tendonitis as a secondary problem and for my husband it is a cough. Very high temps all round, too.What is weird though is that I am fine. This isn't seasonal flu as I have seen it before, but the symptoms don't really match sf either (no D&V, and the children aren't coughing that badly). But I am the only member of the family to have had the flu jab so far this year. If this is sf then I think we have got off lightly, but I hardly dare hope that it is in case I take my eye off the ball. Certainly no doctor has suggested that this is sf.Questions, no worries, I am in exactly the same boat as you. I think your post sums up the reasons why slimming clubs don't work in the long term. People who struggle to lose weight often have emotional attachments to food and even obsessive thoughts about it, and slimming clubs simply re-inforce obsession with what we eat and the notion of food as a 'treat' and it is little wonder the feeling of deprivation comes in. I think the trick is to change the thoughts and emotions we have around food so that we realise that actually the fresh juicy apple is the treat, not the processed bar of sugar and fat. I also really like Paul McKenna's programme because you really can eat what you like, just control any cravings that you have and don't go beyond what you need to feel full. When you take the emotions away the 'treat' foods aren't so appealing.Most people who are overweight know the score; we know what we are doing to our bodies and the fact that we could be shortening our lifespans, not to mention ruining our quality of life on a daily basis. And although there is a valid argument that food manufacturers contribute to obesity through the use of hidden sugar and bad fats, at the end of the day we control what goes in our mouths and it is only a minority of people who genuinely don't know roughly what makes for a healthy diet. So the question that the medical profession and society in general should be asking is what makes overweight/obese people continue to abuse their bodies. Swine flu really highlights this; I know some obese people who are terrified of sf yet aren't losing weight. Why do they feel so defeated?Something else I was thinking about is thsi issue of health anxiety and anxiety around sf, which I know a lot of people reading this blog have. I think that sf just throws up underlying issues that I have, certainly, around suffering and loss. In that sense it isn't really sf that is the problem but my thoughts about it and the judgements I make.Questions, you are asking the same things as me; will herd immunity help, and when will the peak be over? Logically the amount of immunity from last year and the vaccinations should reduce the cases this year, so are we going to see fewer cases but nastier? Apparently a virologist was on R4 saying that this year is going to be far nastier than last and I don't understand why given that sf is stable.On the issue of child vaccination, I think parents should be able to buy private vaccines for administration at their GP's clinic. Given that children are 'superspreaders' it seems madness not to try to stop the spread of a vaccine-preventble illness amongst this group. I intend to see if my children can still get the jab after this illness has cleared up but I have no idea when they will be well enough at the moment. Mon 27 Dec 2010 10:10:35 GMT+1 sussexjools ConcernedDad, I'm with you. I've tried everywhere to find somewhere I could get my healthy 11 year old vaccinated with the seasonal flu jab - and found that private clinics and pharmacies won't administer this unless you are over 18/16.... So much for parental choice, hey? There's one place in Fleet Street, London that seem to offer the vaccine, but as a parent you want to go somewhere you know and trust. The argument for rationing vaccine for those most in need surely is long redundant..? I know the odds of losing your child to "swine flu" are thankfully long, but if you can avoid them suffering illness unnecessarily, then as a parent I feel I should have the choice of obtaining immunisation... and who wants their child to be an NHS statistic of the ones who didn't make it but were otherwise healthy? Just ask the parents of those who sadly have died already. Call me paranoid if you like, but at least you should grant me the right to choose for my child. Sun 26 Dec 2010 23:01:25 GMT+1 Questionsaplenty2 Skyline - i wanted to add - thanks so much for posting the stats/ figures... they really are reassuring! Please keep posting them! :)I remember last year reading somewhere that a flu outbreak on average lasts 12-14 weeks - this was proved reasonably true with the initial outbreak. Looking at the HPA website, I guess we are on week 3 now...hang in there folks...and let's hope this outbreak won't be as bad if the herd immunity previously discussed is out there somewhere! Sun 26 Dec 2010 07:16:38 GMT+1 Questionsaplenty2 Concerned Dad - thank you for your post. You have answered one of my dilemmas at least. I have been wondering whether to get my "healthy" kids vaccinated at the pharmacies/ supermarket's too and now thanks to your post, I see it isn't an option as they are under 18. My dilemma was whether to bother because perhaps as they are low risk, catching the virus might give them longer term protection than a vaccine against future variants that might be even more serious (as per the immunity currently being experienced by the over 65 population.) Sun 26 Dec 2010 07:06:46 GMT+1 Questionsaplenty2 thanks for your replies folksSkyline - thanks for explaining the percentage effectiveness of the vaccine. I agree there must be many overweight people out there but if they are at such a risk, I don't understand why it isn't at least broadcast publically as to those they are suggesting get themselves vaccinated, along with the asthmatics and pregnant women. I certainly would not be offended by a public announcement(at the very least)to this effect and I think there is a responsibility for the government to inform people if they are at increased risk. I would also be happy to pay the cost of my vaccination (as indeed I did), although this should equally apply to asthmatics and heart condition patients who's conditions were brought on by smoking! ther eseems to be a lack of information about the effect of being overweight on a person's susceptibility to have serious complications from this virus.So what happened to the herd immunity of last year? Will this stop this wave of the flu lasting so long? Thanks!Fergus - I seem to remember there was some discussion last year about whether those who are overweight also had other underlying causes and whether weight was a causatory but not sole factor...perhaps many of those affected are asthmatic as a result of their weight for example? I would really like more information about the overlap between all these conditions...for example we are giving figures of numbers of children who have sadly died...and number of pregnant women...and number of people with underlying conditions... BUT what is the overlap between these many women and children affected were also asthmatic?... how many of those affected were overweight and how many also asthmatic? Angels - thanks for your understanding. I agree, there is a tendency for me to want to eat when anxious but I do try & fight it usually. Most of my weight was gained when I had my children, and I have tried so hard over the years to lose it. I have lost 2 stone over the past year and and still working on it, I have some way more to go though. I have, however, lost it many times before, but it creeps back on so easily. I certainly don't sit around eating cakes and chocolate all day. I live on skimmed milk permanently! I am pretty fit and go to the gym. But to lose healthily (I do WW), I have to diminish my intake to smaller portions than those around me and (for me) have almost zero treats which I find it hard to sustain long term. I absolutely abhor the idea that is starting to creep in over the past few years that someone being overweight is not to be treated as a condition that needs support as such and is their own fault. You are right, it just isn't that simple. Often there are emotional causes behind it, food can be a comfort and other people just have so much to cope with that losing weight as well is just too much. As for not directing preventative flu treatment at overweight people for it being their fault, what about all the asthmatics and people that have heart conditions that are smokers? Sun 26 Dec 2010 07:02:48 GMT+1 Amanda Can I raise a concern about the availability of the vaccine? My brother is currently critically Ill with Swine Flu and pneumonia, he is in intensive care, on full ventilation and both sedated and paralysed - and has been for 5 days now. My mother has had the swine flu jab as she was treated for cancer a few years ago. My father saw his GP the day before my brother was diagnosed (he was already in ICU and we knew it was extremely likely), and was given the prescription. He has to get the vaccine, and bring it back to the doctors where they will give him the injection. My questions;1) why don't the doctors surgery stock the vaccine?2) does anyone know where we can get any!? We've called every pharmacy in a 5 mile radius, plus family further away have had no luck. Both Boots Pharmacy and Lloyds have told us that their wholesalers are out of stock, and it is likely to be mid-Jan when they have the vaccine back in stock. The only place that we know that has it is the hospital pharmacy, but they will not process GP prescriptions. Sat 25 Dec 2010 22:27:02 GMT+1 Chloe-in-france One or two people seem to be getting a bit heated about the vaccine debate. This argument from Cochranes's Tom Jefferson shows a healthy and balanced scepticism The Cochrane Institute gathered together reaearch on last year's 'flu epidemic and concluded that even taking into account the fact that about half the data they recorded was from drug company funded reports there was very little difference in infection rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated people.#27's experience goes to show that the vaccine does not guarantee protection from 'flu (hope you soon feel better Carol) and #16, I fully agree with you that vitamin D3 is helpful. A little reseach on the net should show that Vit D deficiency can make you more liable to infection and our GP has tested the older members of our family and prescribed vit D to those she considers below the normal level so presumably her ideas come from accepted medical research. Sat 25 Dec 2010 14:34:05 GMT+1 bhasa04 UK health authorities should try to import the intravenous flu drug "Peramivir" developed by Biocryst Pharmaceuticals, USA. This drug was ordered by the US Health and Human services department during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic to save the lives of seriously sick hospitalized H1N1 patients who do not respond to Tamiflu or Relanza. This drug is already being sold in Japan and South Korea under the names "Rapiacta" and "Peramiflu" respectively. This drug is very expensive though. Sat 25 Dec 2010 14:10:50 GMT+1 ConcernedDad Dear Fergus - the really important issue here is that children without the qualifying conditions like asthma cannot get the jab, whereas any adult can get it at many supermarkets and pharmacists across the country if they have £8-£15. However, supermarkets and pharmacies WON'T vaccinate anyone under 18. Why are the most vulnerable members of society unable to receive this protection? PLEASE highlight this important issue - no one else in the media has done so and the government needs to consider it. Last year the swine flu vaccine was available to under 5's. The government is not responding to circumstances quickly enough.I have a seven year old daughter who has mild asthma and I was able to get her vaccinated because of this; my wife, and myself were able to get the jab at a supermarket; my elderly mother is already vaccinated. This left my 19 month old toddler, the most vulnerable member of my family, and my GP refused to vaccinate her. This is despite my concerns and my intuition that this outbreak will be serious, based on the sudden doubling of serious cases last week. I also have an adult friend - mid twenties, previously completely healthy and fit - who came down with it last week, and her condition was so appalling - though not serious enough for hospital - that I was determined to get my kids vaccinated. In the end I bullied my Doctor into giving her the vaccine but had to sign a piece of paper acknowledging that I knew the vaccine was 'not medically necessary'. That could apply to any vaccine! As a former journalist I am a particularly persuasive person, but I doubt many parents could have achieved this. But then, why should they? The vaccine should be available to all children. One last thing - frankly, I would do anything to avoid the hell of trying to persuade a doctor to come out to my sick child at 3am in Christmas week, or ending up in a hospital staffed by one junior doctor. Hopefully the vaccine will have taken effect before either of my kids catches it. Fri 24 Dec 2010 22:43:17 GMT+1 Carol Gould I had the jab on 15 November. About three days later I developed a swelling in the armpit under the spot where the jab had been given. I happened to be seeing an oncologist because I had recently had breast cancer surgery and was worried that this could be a cancer in a lymph node. I was reassured after she examined the swelling and said it was likely a reaction to the jab. On the weekend of 27 November I developed a raging fever and ended up having to have the out of hours GP to my house as I was so ill. My legs ached and I was in the full grip of 'the grippe.' She said I had a strain of flu not in the jab. I developed a bad cough that required an antibiotic a week later. I was able to go out on 10 December having been housebound and bedridden for a fortnight. Then on 13 December I had a 'turn' in my flat and got awfully scared; I was going to faint. I took a vitamin B12, thinking it was a liver attack and did feel better. But the next day I could barely move about as my legs were weak and I had an excruciating pain in my right hip. By the next day I had another raging fever and then by midweek had stomach flu. I ached from head to toe and felt so ill I cried in my bed. By the following Sunday I had not got better so had the GP along . He said I had gastric flu and that all he was doing was visiting scores of sick people. I am feeling better this Christmas Eve but WEAK beyond belief. So much for the jab! Fri 24 Dec 2010 21:49:38 GMT+1 nick_p You also have to remember Fergus that for some of those at risk have found it difficult to get immunized at there GP'S because they have on a technical note not been found to have long term illnesses which have warranted being sent a letter by there GP.For example i have a lung disease but was not conceded by my practice to warrant a flue jab so i have to get my mp involved and then the practice says OK not everyone is going to jump through hoops to get a jab My practice give me grief every year but i still manage thanks to others to get my immunization and without there help would be dead simple as that Fri 24 Dec 2010 21:27:42 GMT+1 Dr David Hill - World Innovation Foundation Vaccines to stop the eventual human-to-human killer virus will never come to our rescue.The reasons,1. After 13 months 1 week of initial identification and infection of the human-to-human killer swine flu in 2009/2010, only 23% of the USA population had the swine flu vaccine.2. The further mutated Spanish Flu in 1918/1919 after the first wave 6 months earlier did its worst between week 16 and week 26, wiping out between 20 million and 100 million people worldwide. 3. The earliest a vaccine can be produced presently and ready for global distribution is 7 months 1 week (according to last year’s killer swine flu outbreak and where then we had to start distributing the vaccine globally – a logistics’ nightmare), some two months later than the end of the majority of the human deaths from Spanish Flu in 1919.4. Last year it took 6 months after the creation of the vaccine and regulatory approval to manufacture, distribute and administer to 23% of the American people.5. In accordance with the official data outlined above, for the vaccine strategy to stop a future mass human-to-human pandemic killer, we would have to create a vaccine before it was even detected and that is where the fallacy of the vaccine strategy resides and can never work. All logic and time is just against it.Therefore we have to start addressing the human killer at its source and use ‘Prevention’ as our first line of defence and use vaccines as our second line of defence. If we do not, when the eventual human-to-human mutated killer emerges, as it will according to Margaret Chan (only a matter of time and not when), hundreds of millions will die. This first line of defence will cost US$50 billion, but is little change when compared to the human and economic devastation that a comparable Spanish Flu would inflict on the world-at-large.Overall and because of the world has become totally absorbed with financial gain, we have forgotten the first principle of medicine in that ‘Prevention’ is better than cure.The only strategy therefore that will stop this happening in time and what stopped the killer virus in its tracks in 1997 in Hong Kong is, many more times have we to be warned with the constant deaths year-on-year that these pandemics bring. The next time may be the ‘big’ one.[Personal details removed by Moderator] Fri 24 Dec 2010 20:52:34 GMT+1 Quackskeepaway It’s not too hard to prove it wrong. May be we should sit down in the new year and go through it ;-)Sorry about the attitude I just get worried by quackery. Fri 24 Dec 2010 19:46:47 GMT+1 SkylineOnFire My proof? How about thousands of peer reviewed statements reports etc...Whats his? Conspiracy theorist websites? Less of the attitude? I refuse to accept blatant lies and misinformation, especially with such a delicate subject, its quite frankly offensive. Fri 24 Dec 2010 18:34:26 GMT+1 TrueScotsman90 #17I challenge you to prove he is wrong? and less of the attitude please, had enough of it last year. Thanks. Fri 24 Dec 2010 18:22:40 GMT+1 Quackskeepaway Suetusor I find it hard to find anything in your post that is actually true.Do you eat salt? Swimming in the sea??? I hope not as they both contain Chlorine an extremely toxic element. Oh wait it's in the form of Sodium Chlorine. But isn't that your false assertion to mercury?The extremely low mercury COMPOUND isn't harmful and is in a lower dose than you would be exposed too in your "normal" everyday life.And it's chronic exposure to mercury that makes you ill; otherwise we would all be very ill after a nice Salmon sandwich.Oh and there is absolutely NO (I shall repeat that) NO evidence that Vit D offers ANY protection against flu in healthy people on a normal diet. Ok I’ll concede one (half) truth...” antibodies does not nessesarily mean you are protected”... But it does mean that you are less likely to get Flu and if you do get flu you will not be as ill as long and are less likely to die. Fri 24 Dec 2010 18:12:25 GMT+1 comperedna For those in risk categories wanting a flu vaccination and worried by not being 'on the list', I have just been told by my daughter-in-law that it is available from Boots at £15 a shot... and that they will give it to you. Anybody have confirmation of that? Fri 24 Dec 2010 17:50:30 GMT+1 comperedna Doc my question remains. It is an extremely selfish one. It was not really about community medicine, public health and public protection now or in the future. Fortunately that is not my job, and agreed GPs must be rushed of their feet... but I would like to know if any of those who died are known to have been given Tamiflu or Relenza in the period within which their manufacturers claims to them be effective. I am that rare person who has had GBS (following flu which I have only had once in my life, which laid me low for a week, and which was not remotely like a cold... certainly not got from any vaccine) After advice from the best GBS researchers in the business I will not be having a flu jab. I do have a course of Tamiflu by me and will take it as my personal best defence within the time for its best action. Also, I will, if it really hots up, avoid flu by absenting myself from as much contact with the general population as possible. Fri 24 Dec 2010 17:45:59 GMT+1 Kathryn Once I am wondering why fat people are more at risk from flu.Is it because their health is already worse by being overweight.Obesity is class related,so they are poorer and in less good housing on the whole.I used to be painfully thin,which doctor's disliked at that time and my husband was told to fatten me up.When 42 I got severe arthritis and later hypothroidism and I am now plump if not obese.I still ride a bicycle and do housework.I must admit I am feeling ghastly at the moment with some bronchitic illness brought on by cycling on a very cold day.I have been getting the flu jab but every winter since I became hypothroid I get bad viral infections etc.Is it cos I is too fat?Which thing explains which other.My husband and I were both premature,small babies, and I believe that links to obesity in mid life.I've always been too thin or too fat. Fri 24 Dec 2010 17:31:12 GMT+1 SkylineOnFire Suetusor. I challenge you to find any evidence whatsoever to substantiate your frankly ludicrous claims. The things you are stating aren't just bending the truth to suit an agenda, they are full on lies. You should be ashamed of yourself for pushing such rubbish. Fri 24 Dec 2010 17:21:20 GMT+1 Andrew The swine flu vaccine has already been associated with a 700% increase in miscarriages in pregnant woman, GBS and Narcolepsy. It contains squalene, mercrury, aluminium and GM ingredients and has never been properly tested. Squalene is similar to our body fats so can casue autom immune disease when injected.If its truly safe why was big pharma given immunity from prosecution if it harmed anyone and why did over 80% of Doctors refuse the jab themselves?It has never even proven to work in the real world, antibodies does not nessesarily mean you are protected.Study after study has shown that there is no medical benefit to taking a a flu vaccine as they do not reduce hostpitalizations rates.The WHO has been found guilty to having a conflict of interest and have lost all credibility and its known that vitamin d3 supplemention offers far more protection against the flu than any vaccine full of toxic ingredients.No way does the flu vaccineofer 80-90% protection againt the flu, even the inventor of the flu vaccine thinks its next to useless and works no better than a placebo.Evidence suggests that for every 100 people who take this toxic witches brew only 1 will be protected.The damage from vaccines can be immediate, short or long term so just because millions have had them does not prove they are safe, far far from it. Fri 24 Dec 2010 16:55:13 GMT+1 DocJ LoneTurtle - please show me any peer-reviewed evidence you have to support these claims?The simple fact is that vaccines go through the same rigorous clinical trial protocol as any other drug, the cost of which is beyond astronomical - so much so that it will actually offer minimal financial return for any pharmaceutical company. Sadly this is the reason why comparatively little money is spent on developing vaccines at all, especially so for malaria, etc, which exist primarily in less-affluent countries. Many vaccines are the result of government/DoH pressure and result in no profit for the developer.Vaccines are not dangerous and this kind of unsubstantiated comment has a direct cost to life.Disclaimer: I am involved in clinical research. I am not, nor have I ever been, employed by, or involved with, a pharmaceutical company. Fri 24 Dec 2010 16:35:48 GMT+1 DocJ Having read the last posts, I felt compelled to comment for the sake of clarity on a subject which is very poorly reported on by all aspects of the media.Once cells are infected with a virus they produce and release new virus particle until they are targeted for "cell death" by the immune system. It is this cell death which leads to the symptoms we associate with flu not the infection of cells with virus per se (although comparitively few of us have actually had true influenza).Tamiflu (or oseltamivir to use the non-trade name) works by inhibiting the ability of infected cells to release new virus. It is prioritised for those who are already severely ill, but to become symptomatic you must have a large number of cells already infected, and once severely ill an even greater number of cells have been infected. Therefore, oseltamivir will have little efficacy in these people, and it will certainly not reduce the severity of the illness. What it may do (and to my mind there is still no unbiased, clear evidence on this) is give those who are severely ill a fighting chance by "saving" uninfected cells. For real effect, Oseltamivir should be given before symptoms start so by the very nature of its method of action the drug will always, inevitably and unfortunately, be given too late - wouldn't it be wonderful if we could predict when we are going to come down with a virus!I would also not be hasty to rubbish the job GPs do, or blame them for government policy. I have a great deal of respect for GPs, I would not certainly not want to do their job. In just 8 minutes they must greet you, listen to your presenting complaint, ask any relevent questions, listen to your expectations and concerns, fill out any paperwork, and decide if you are one of the many patients who need reassurance or a prescription for the chemist, or if you are in fact the rare patient who has identical symptoms but requires an urgent admission to hospital. It takes a great deal of skill to be a good GP, I have often heard it said that you are a jack of all trades but master of none, but in fact you must be a master of all. The reason GPs are "not allowed" (or as I would prefer it said "realise it would not be wise") to prescribe Tamiflu to every case of Influenza is that like any drug, resistance can be developed against it, and it would be a horrible for a drug which may give some benefit in survival to be rendered useless by resistance in those who most need it, just so the population can supposedly shorten their cold by one day. (For more info on why Tamiflu is not effective to control general population influenza see, and for resistance see Moscona, NEJM 2005).There is a good (at least theoretical) reason why the elderly would not be as severely affected by H1N1. The last outbreak of H1N1 was in roughly 1940, when many of the elderly would have been alive and gained exposure. H1N1 has displaced the other major flu species and is here to stay for the time being, I do not have access to the exact government figures, but I wondered if the deaths from flu this year (all species) are any higher than the average expected. I would doubt if they are but the media loves medical scaremongering and exaggerating the facts, and is getting very good at it.Lastly, simply put, those at risk from flu should receive the seasonal flu vaccine - a good deal of work goes into predicting which flu strains will be active for the coming winter season each year (and they are pretty good at it). No vaccine will be 100% effective but if you are vaccinated, you will be much safer. To "Kittenbob" - unfortunately there is a limit to the number of vaccine jabs available, GPs have to priorise but will not get every decision right. Ultimately you who spends each day with your child will know him/her better than any doctor ever will. If you want them to be vaccinated ask your GP or your practice Nurse, and explain your reasons why you feel they should be, someone will listen! Fri 24 Dec 2010 16:22:19 GMT+1 WanderingWill A good and timely article Fergus. Why is it that GP's do not automatically notify people of appointments for people that they have in the past sanctioned as needy for such injections?For at least three reasons I am in need of protection but our government sits idly by, no doubt in the hope that a few less burdens on the NHS will assist with their massively unfair cuts.Who's next to die then? Fri 24 Dec 2010 16:17:08 GMT+1 comperedna Aside from the vaccine and protection before the event... I am curious to know whether any of those who died from flu, were given Tamiflu within 24 - 48 hours. We all know Tamiflu is not swine flu specific and is likely 'merely'? to reduce severity of the illness and the length of it by, perhaps, one day, but Tamiflu or Relenza are the only drug treatments we have, and are what is given to those very ill in hospital but TOO LATE! What is this I heard about GP's being 'given permission' to prescribe it for serious cases.(!) Could this be related to the fact that much of the government stock of the drugs are now likely to be out of date? Fri 24 Dec 2010 14:17:32 GMT+1 LoneTurtle We read the figures of the number of people who had died of 'flu related' illnesses and these are presented as evidence for the case in favour of vaccination. What the figures don't tell us is what percentage of these victims are those who had actually had the vaccine and died anyway. Vaccines are potentially dangerous so decisions should not be taken lightly.Vaccination programs represent vast profits for the pharmaceutical industries and their record of honestly reporting problems that arise from their products leaves a lot to be desired. Deaths and complications from vaccines tend to be recorded as 'flu related' and are often misleading. Fri 24 Dec 2010 13:49:59 GMT+1 kittenbob I have a 16 month old son with a rare, serious and incurable heart condition - last summer he was in hospital for nothing more than a common cold.Yet despite all this, and them having been sent a letter from the consultant stating 'seasonal influenza vaccination is indicated', our GP told me that he didn't need the flu vaccine.They did vaccinate him in the end, but I had to really push for it and was made to feel I was in the wrong in brining him to the flu clinic.From my experience more needs to be done to educate GPs about at risk groups... or perhaps their reluctance to give vaccinations is caused by a desire to cut costs?Either way, it seems to me that it's no wonder uptake isn't what it should be amongst at risk groups (and also that it's time I found a new GP surgery to go to!). Fri 24 Dec 2010 13:38:35 GMT+1 Sutara There seems to have been a significant amount of people suggesting that there has been a seriously low take up of seasonal flu vaccination this winter, particularly within the 'vulnerable' groups.I can't help but wonder if that might be that those people who have already got their 'swine flu' jab don't see it as highly necessary to get the seasonal one because the 'big' threat this year is the same type as they have already been vaccinated against.Of course, it could perhaps be that people in this current economic climate are just finding it difficult to get away from work at a time that suits their G.P. / clinic / pracice nurse to get vaccinated.Perhaps the NHS has something to learn from this if it is so. That is, if you want mass compliance with something in the name of public health, then you need to make it easy and convenient for the end-user to use the service. That is, prioritise the clients' convenience, not the NHS managers and administators convenience. Fri 24 Dec 2010 12:57:09 GMT+1 angelscomeinthrees Hi, Skyline, thanks for answering. I don't doubt the safety of the flu vaccine at all. What I am wondering is if it caused the 39 degree fever and aches and pains I had afterwards as a side effect in the same way I've seen my kids get temps after MMR. I had to spend two days in bed which was really annoying, and some medical people I've spoken to said it was the jab and some not. My kids don't do well with temps (I've just got back from hospital with my son in case you missed my earlier post) and I'm tyrying to quantify the likelihood of them getting the same kind of reaction that I did - if indeed it was a reaction. Fri 24 Dec 2010 08:32:07 GMT+1 SkylineOnFire And a bit more to post, Every year, around 3000 people die of flu in the UK. Every single year. 90 percent of those are over 65, but 10 percent arent.This means that around 300 people, under 65, die of regular seasonal flu, every single year. This year we have had 27 people in total die of influenza so far, despite millions of cases. Or what about in the 89/90 flu season, over 30,000 people died of flu in the UK that winter, with 89 percent of them being over 65. So in the 89/90 outbreak, around 3000 people under 65 died of flu in the UK. Swine flu killed just over 400 people in an entire year, despite weeks where 200,000 people were confirmed to be infected, and the true number most likely several million cases per week. Its hard rationalizing it, I understand, I've been through it all myself. You just have to focus on the positives, and please stay away from the daily mail and other news sources that insist on trying to scare everyone senseless with their sensationalist headlines.Angelscomeinthrees, do I think you got ill due to your vaccine? No. Vaccines dont give you the flu, or any other virus for that matter. They are safe, have been for decades. I honestly dont understand why people are still going on about the safety of flu vaccines as being a huge issue. Every year for decades and decades, millions upon millions of people are given flu vaccines in the UK alone. Safe? Yes. Fri 24 Dec 2010 08:21:33 GMT+1 angelscomeinthrees Thanks for the number crunching, Skyline, I can never get my brain around figures. :-) Fri 24 Dec 2010 08:12:16 GMT+1 angelscomeinthrees Skyline, I'd appreciate your thoughts on whether I was made ill through side effects of the vaccine or because I was already infectious; I can't get a definitive answer for this and it will help me to make an informed decision about the children.Questions, I noticed that you mentioned your weight on Fergus' previous piece on flu. Please don't feel you have to justify yourself. I understand exactly where you are coming from and there is more to weight loss than just 'willpower'. An obvious example would be my own experience of losing weight in my twenties - I ate a low fat, high carb diet and didn't have an ounce of fat on me. Now I'm pushing forty that just doesn't work and I need to drastically reduce my carb intake. Maybe you need to look at whether you could have insulin resistance, not many doctors check for it.Also I know you have anxiety issues - me too - and if you are like me you may use food as a way of coping with that in the way that others do by having a smoke or a G&T. I can recommend Paul McKenna's book on losing weight (ignore the naff title) and there is an interesting new book on weight loss by Marianne Williamson that will be worth a look.Unlike alcohol or drug problems, weight issues (often caused by addictive behaviour) are visible and our society seems to think it has a license to point and sneer, which only adds to the pain and shame which causes the overeating in the first place. I think there would be an outcry in certain sections of the media if the flu jab were offered to the obese. That said, I also would think that many obese people would have other underlying issues which should qualify them for the jab.Have you bought a private jab yet?Thank you for your kind words about my son. He was on the surgical ward where there were some very poorly children who are not going to be home for Christmas and it's nothing to do with swine flu. Questions, for most of us the worst thing that can happen with swine flu is what we think about it, the torture we put ourselves through worrying. And so we're dead now, because we're living in a terrifying imagined future of 'what ifs' rather accepting that in this present moment, we're okay, and that we will probably continue to be okay; even if we get sf we will probably recover even if we need antibiotics etc. That doesn't make light of the grief of others, it's like how most of us accept we can go out in the car without being killed in an accident even though some people will be.Keep safe. xxx Fri 24 Dec 2010 08:10:16 GMT+1 SkylineOnFire Oh and I felt like putting that latest figure of 87 confirmed cases per 100,000 people into a real world perspective. 87 per 100,000 is the absolute bottom line figure, this is just people who have called NHS direct, or contacted their GP's etc... So, lets get to the numbers.Minimum of 87 cases per 100,000 people. There are 62 million people in the UK. 620 x 100,000 is 62 million. So to get the figure for minimum cases of influenza in the UK for this past week, We multiply 87 by 620. This gives us a minimum of 53,940 cases of influenza in the UK in the past week.There have been around 10 deaths I believe, putting the mortality rate, at 1 in 5394 cases. Of course, since the true number of influenza cases in the UK is many many times greater than the 53,940 number given, the true mortality rate will be many times lower than the one we just worked out. I hope this simplified the numbers and helped anyone who reads this, grasp it a little better. Fri 24 Dec 2010 08:08:11 GMT+1 slatts Surely this could have been distilled down to"is swine flu a worry?""no, stupid reporters who like to make a big fuss, just to sell their papers are though" Fri 24 Dec 2010 07:59:57 GMT+1 SkylineOnFire The seasonal vaccine is doing its job yes, most influeza vaccines are around 80-90 percent effective, meaning it's still possible to catch the virus after the vaccine, the odds of doing so are just greatly reduced. As for why overweight people arent being told to come in for vaccines, I think the fact that a very large percentage of the UK is now overweight, means they are at the bottom of the pile of people with underlying health conditions. Another point is, how many overweight people would like a call from their GP surgery, telling them to get in for a vaccine because they are fat? I'm unsure if thats a valid reason, as I have never had to worry about being overweight, but I could imagine it wouldnt be too politically correct these days... Another point regarding that, is being overweight is in the vast majority of cases, the fault of the individual. So quite possibly the thinking is, vaccinate people who have through no fault of their own have an underlying health condition, before moving on to people who are responsible for their own underlying health condition. Or perhaps being overweight, isnt statistically as risky as having athsma, when it comes to swine flu. Fri 24 Dec 2010 07:38:56 GMT+1 Questionsaplenty2 Thanks for the update Fergus. I still don't understand why people who are overweight have not been advised to have the flu jab if this virus is targeting them along with asthmatics etc?I am also concerned to hear that one of the 27 who has died had actually had the latest vaccine. I am curious to know whether they caught the virus within 21 days of having it or afterwards. Is the seasonal vaccine doing its job? Perhaps this person was fighting a fever when they had the jab and it didnt take effect...I wish more information was available on this story. Thu 23 Dec 2010 21:57:07 GMT+1