Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Pay-back time

Making headline news today is a survey by Pulse magazine which says more than half (54 per cent) of patients are rejecting the swine flu jab.  First, it should be said that this is a survey of only 107 GPs but it's still a worrying statistic. The vaccine is not compulsory in the UK and it's up to individuals to make their choice. But a Nottingham GP is reporting only one in 20 pregnant women having the jab which - given the number of high-profile deaths of pregnant women is particularly worrying for a government keen to see as many people as possible get vaccinated. The reasons for refusal given fall into two main categories: worries about side effects and "it's only mild". My gut feeling is this is payback time for a government that has carried out a hush-hush policy on swine flu deaths. The problem is perhaps that people are concerned about side effects from the vaccine. But it's probably also a case that they're not scared enough of the swine flu. As long as anonymous statistics die from swine flu instead of real people, and as long as those deaths only happen to "people with underlying health problems" then the public are going to reason that it's never going to happen to them or anyone in their 'real' world. Health officials have jealously guarded details of swine flu deaths - sometimes refusing to say even if the person who died was a man or woman. So they can't complain too much if the public decide against vaccinations - and the death toll (already at 180) keeps on rising.

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