Monday, 5 October 2009

Swine Flu Vaccine Misinformation


I didn't know there were so many dangerous people in the world. But then I came to this YouTube entry! The comments and advice could be life-threatening!

If anyone took the time to read the insert for any medication they would see a long list of POSSIBLE side-effects, that for most drugs have a small chance of occurring, and certainly after rigorous clinical trials are deemed to be outweighed by the benefits. Nothing is perfect in this life and we must be vigilant with all things that affect our wellbeing. But please don't be put off by the comments in the YouTube article from making a sensible judgement on whether your risk of exposure to flu, and your preexisting health or health history warrant taking or not taking the available vaccine. And please do this, if possible, with help and advice from your doctor or other knowledgeable medical professional (e.g. phamacist).

Remember, the inserts for drugs show that the company and government are prepared to be honest and upfront about the risks. But to make use of the information you need to get educated about what they mean, especially in terms of the chances they might occur relative to your own health history, and importantly what your risks are if you don't take the medication.

Influenza can be a serious illness, especially for certain individuals with present health issues, including immune disorders. And don't forget the "unknown" preexisting conditions that individuals can have. When was the last time you had a health check?

I am not a medical doctor, but I feel I am well enough informed to make comments on this issue. I have taken the time and effort to find facts, and not just anecdotes. The instantly made alarmist reactions from the internet are most often not facts, they are lay opinions. Having said that, many people make comments with the best intentions, although the information they give might be flawed. Mix this with the views of nutcases and the completely diversionary religious inserts (as in the YouTube article’s comments) and the outcome can be simply misinformation. This can be unhelpful and even dangerous. Of course, there are also examples of fallacious "medical" opinion, a notable example being the incorrect interpretations and advice from certain UK doctors about the MMR vaccine that led to major problems in its uptake due to concerned parents believing the (very small) minority opinion rather than reading widely and deeply. Now the consensus is that MMR is safe, but there was not real evidence to refute this originally had people looked! The media had a field day and due to their scaremongering many children have gotten ill.

To conclude, get hold of the medical/scientific facts (independently and from a doctor), discuss the issues widely and deeply, think long and hard about the benefits, think long and hard about the alternatives and their possible consequences, and then make the decision. You can't do more than that and so then whatever your decision it will be the right one, but YOU will have to live (or not) with the consequences!