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Health chiefs in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot concerned that flu jab take-up is too low

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 21, 2012

By Liz Perkins

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HEALTH chiefs in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot have voiced concern over what they have described as a worryingly low number of people taking up the flu jab.

New figures have revealed that there is a serious decline in the number of people in high-risk groups having the vaccine this year compared to 2011.

Flu can spread easily from person to person — for many it is irritating but for some the virus can prove life-threatening.

Sara Hayes, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board director of public health, said: "This is a very serious matter and a cause of great concern.

"We are halfway through November and are very worried that so many of our patients still haven't had their flu jab.

"Please, if you are in one of the following high-risk groups go to your GP and get your free flu jab now.

"It is very, very, important that people who have existing health conditions realise that for them flu is extremely serious and can be life-threatening."

Bruce Ferguson, ABM medical director and lead doctor for the health board, said it was vital people had the jab.

"By not having the flu jab, many patients are risking their lives unnecessarily," he added.

"You can't get flu from the jab as the vaccination itself is not a live flu virus. If you do have flu after having the jab it is more than likely a coincidence and you already had the virus in your body before you had the jab.

"The jab itself is safe and most people suffer little more than a sore arm after having it.

"If you have any concerns, speak to your GP, then make a final decision, please don't just decide not to have your jab."

Both Dr Hayes and Dr Ferguson have had the flu jab.

People who are in high-risk groups who are advised to have the jab include those aged 65 and over, and people with long-term health conditions, including respiratory, heart, kidney and liver problems, as well as diabetes and neurological disease.

Pregnant women, carers and those living in residential care homes also should get the vaccine.

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  • ABM_Health  |  November 23 2012, 8:42AM

    It is important to remember that flu can kill. Because of this scientists are constantly developing the vaccine to make it more effective each year (flu season). It is vital that those in high-risk groups get the vaccine so they are protected from the virus. The article PJL1067 refers to in the Independent quotes scientists as stressing it is still worth getting the jab.

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  • PJL1967  |  November 21 2012, 7:20PM

    It's also worth considering that, apparently, it can be proved that the number of people who are said to die from flu each year has been grossly exaggerated in order, it is alleged, to increase the uptake of the vaccine. Quote: "How do we know the figures are false? The bizarre way they are calculated was explained in 2009 by the out-going Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Liam Donaldson in a letter published on Christmas Eve in the British Medical Journal: (Mortality from pandemic A/H1N1 2009 influenza in England: public health surveillance study) BMJ 24th December 2009." See here for further info: "British Press Association Publishes Known-To-Be-False UK Government Flu Death Figures – In A Story To Promote Known-To-Be-Ineffective 'Flu Vaccines To UK Elderly" - http://tinyurl.com/aoa2vtj

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  • PJL1967  |  November 21 2012, 5:19PM

    williamwaun - you may be interested to hear that the recent scientific report mentioned in today's Independent found no evidence that the flu vaccine is effective for the over 65's. Tom Jefferson, an author of the Cochrane reviews (who looked into the effectiveness of the flu vaccine) says: "Influenza vaccine was first introduced in the 1940s and protection rates of between 70 to 90 per cent were frequently cited. The CIDRAP report found that the flu shots given in the UK, using trivalent inactivated flu vaccine, provided 59 per cent protection in healthy adults aged 18 to 64 but there were no good studies demonstrating its effectiveness in adults of 65 and over." Here's a link to the article in today's Independent, http://tinyurl.com/cswxak7

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  • williamwaun  |  November 21 2012, 4:52PM

    I had the flu jab two years running and was bad afterwards. I no longer have it, also I know other who are bad after it. But also if it stops older people from getting the flu, it must save lives.

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  • PJL1967  |  November 21 2012, 4:21PM

    Maybe the reason there is such a low number of people taking up the flu jab is because most people don't believe the hype peddled by governments and vaccine manufacturers. An article in today's Independent (called "Scientists urge ministers: tell truth on 'over-hyped' flu vaccine") begins by saying: "The flu vaccine given to millions of people each year in Britain is "over-promoted" and "over-hyped" and the protection it offers against the seasonal illness has been exaggerated, scientists claim... ..One expert told The Independent the Government should be held accountable for "wasting taxpayer's money" on the annual £120m national vaccination campaign." Also, as someone who has spent hundreds of hours reading up on the pro's and con's of various vaccines I would like to add that as well as the flu jab being "over-promoted" and "over-hyped" it seems to me the risks are invariably down-played. The article above is a case in point because although it is not mentioned, all vaccines carry a potential risk of a serious adverse reaction. So, all things considered, even though I'm in one of the so-called 'at risk groups', when I get a phone call from my Dr's surgery asking me if I want the flu vaccine I'll tell them what I tell them every year, thanks, but no thanks!

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