UK expert addresses seasonal flu concerns

Gary Finnegan

Gary Finnegan

December 7th, 2010

Gary Finnegan

‘With slightly fewer people having the seasonal flu vaccine in the UK this winter, Professor David Salisbury, Director of Immunisation at the UK Department of Health has been dispelling some popular myths which could be affecting immunisation rates.’

Professor_David_SalisburyOfficials say that by early indications show a small reduction (between 5% and 6%) in the number of people having the seasonal flu vaccine. It could, they say, be due to relatively milder weather at the beginning of the flu season, or it may be linked to “people being unnecessarily concerned about the jab containing the ‘swine flu’ vaccine” which has led to the pandemic flu in 2009-2010.

In an interview published by the UK government, Prof Salisbury urged people to check with their doctor and said the annual flu jab does not have any live virus in it.

“This year’s vaccine is the ordinary seasonal flu jab and protects against the dominant strains – this year it protects against three types of flu, including the type known as “swine flu”. It is vital we don’t underestimate the effects of this virus. It is not the same as getting a cold and it can seriously affect your health,” he said.

Here are Prof Salisbury’s responses to some of the misconceptions around the seasonal flu vaccine:

* “I don’t want a vaccine that’s got ‘swine flu’ in it!”

The vaccine doesn’t have any actual live virus in it. It simply mimics the virus so your body creates antibodies to make you immune to that virus.

There is more than one flu virus going about, so we have to use a vaccine that protects against the most common ones. That has to include swine flu this year because the World Health Organization predict that it will be the most common.

Swine flu is now normal seasonal flu – if you don’t have this jab you are not going to be protected.

* “I’m not old so I don’t need the vaccine”

Older people are especially at risk from complications from flu. But people with long term health problems like asthma and diabetes are also at risk. I urge anyone who’s eligible to have the free vaccine every year.

* “The Government is just using up the vaccine from last year”

Last year’s pandemic flu vaccine was completely different and is not being used again at all. It’s in storage. The seasonal flu vaccine has been created to protect against three strains of flu that are going around this year. It’s been used safely in places like Australia in their winter.

* “I don’t want the ‘swine flu’ bit – can’t I just have the jabs separately?”

This wouldn’t work because we can’t predict which flu will attack you. The Government has to take advice from all the experts, and the World Health Organization were very clear that a vaccine to offer protection against three types of flu was the best option. Because “swine flu” will be the most common flu this year, you won’t be protected without this vaccine.

To read this article in full, check out the original article on the UK Department of Health website


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    June 27th, 2011

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