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Patients are being urged to get the flu jab now after A&Es are swamped with patients

By EPerkins1  |  Posted: January 30, 2013

Comments (9)

DOCTORS are urging high-risk patients to get the flu jab after scores of people with serious respiratory illnesses are swamping emergency departments.

Cases of flu are soaring across Wales.

A&E departments in Swansea, Neath, Port Talbot and Bridgend are being inundated with frail elderly patients, with chronic respiratory illnesses who have gone on to have pneumonia.

Some patients have been so seriously ill they have had to be treated in high dependency and intensive care units. The situation has led to GPs to call on patients in high-risk groups to get the jab now.

ABM University Health Board Emergency Consultant, Andy MacNab said: "A lot of patients are arriving as emergencies because they are suffering with serious breathing difficulties and respiratory illness. These patients already have underlying health problems which makes catching the flu all the more dangerous for them.

"If you are in a high-risk group go to your GP now and get a flu jab – it isn't too late. It will help protect you and possibly save your life."
High-risk groups are: over 65s; over 6 months with a long term health condition; pregnant women; immunosuppressed or living with someone who is; carers, and those living in residential or long-stay care.
Cathy Dowling, ABM Head of Midwifery explains why pregnant women are in the high-risk group, added: "It's because of the complications caused by the flu.
"Pregnant women are 4 – 5 times more likely to have serious problems from flu and require intensive care treatment. Also, having flu during pregnancy increases the risk of having a premature birth and problems such as foetal distress.
"We are encouraging mum-to-be to have the flu jab as it reduces these risks and also provides baby with immunity for the first few months of life when infection can be very serious.

"From talking to mums-to-be we're aware some are concerned about having a vaccination when pregnant. There is no need to be scared, studies and reviews show the flu jab is safe both for mum-to-be and baby. But if you are concerned please talk to your GP or Midwife before making a final decision."
The flu jab is free and you can have one by contacting your local GP surgery. The jab is safe, with only minor side-effects such as a sore arm.
It isn't possible to get flu from the flu jab as the vaccination does not contain live or active flu virus.
If you do get the flu around the same time as having the vaccination it is more than likely a coincidence.



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  • PJL1967  |  February 02 2013, 11:29AM

    It's not me who has discredited the flu vaccine, it is the highly respected international network of experts from the Cochrane Collaboration, and a separate bunch of highly respected experts at the Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, US.

  • kasparov44  |  February 02 2013, 10:35AM

    Can't help thinking that people like PJL1967 also helped discredit the MMR jabs.

  • PJL1967  |  February 01 2013, 2:22PM

    On second thought, maybe I've been too generous in my terminology here because it's also worth noting that even though the Cochrane reviews found the vaccines effectiveness was severely limited they also say: "Our results may be an optimistic estimate because company-sponsored influenza vaccines trials tend to produce results favorable to their products and some of the evidence comes from trials carried out in ideal viral circulation and matching conditions and because the harms evidence base is limited." And they conclude by saying: "This review includes 15 out of 36 trials funded by industry (four had no funding declaration). An earlier systematic review of 274 influenza vaccine studies published up to 2007 found industry funded studies were published in more prestigious journals and cited more than other studies independently from methodological quality and size.Studies funded from public sources were significantly less likely to report conclusions favorable to the vaccines. The review showed that reliable evidence on influenza vaccines is thin but there is evidence of widespread manipulation of conclusions and spurious notoriety of the studies. The content and conclusions of this review should be interpreted in light of this finding." I read that as meaning evidence of the vaccines effectiveness was, in all reality, non existent, and the vaccines only use is, as the New York Times recently put it to provide a "bonanza" for vaccine manufacturers. And if anyone is in any doubt bare in mind Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, as well as its Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance said. "It does not protect as promoted. It's all a sales job: it's all public relations." Others might very well call it a huge money making scam with little, if any, regard for public safety...

  • PJL1967  |  February 01 2013, 11:43AM

    So, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary from independent scientist, which shows the vaccine is of little if any benefit, ABM_Health is effectively saying the vaccine is highly effective for people in the at risk groups and there are no real risks of adverse effects - even though we both know it can cause Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis, transverse myelitis, et, etc and indeed death! (See, for example: http://tinyurl.com/adl6g45 ) Wow! Fair do's, if there was an award for 'exaggerating the benefits and minimising the risks' I'm sure you'd win it! It's no wonder, when objectivity is so blatantly replaced with spin and semantics, that over 70% of healthcare workers refuse to have the jab...

  • ABM_Health  |  February 01 2013, 10:05AM

    Hi PJL1967, There has indeed been a lot of media coverage about the flu jab and a lot of information available online. Recommendations to public organisations about vaccinations i.e. the flu jab, are made by independent expert groups such as the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. The recommendations are made in the interest of public health and based on evidence and reviews from a number of sources. As you know, people in high-risk groups are encouraged to have the flu jab as they are more likely to experience worse symptoms and complications from flu than a healthy adult. The benefit of the flu jab, large or small, for these individuals could make the difference between being seriously ill and in a life threatening condition or not. We always advise if you are not sure about having the flu vaccination or are concerned about side-effects you should speak to your GP. As well as knowing you and your medical history, they know about the vaccination and the types available. They also have access to experts in the field of communicable disease. There are different types of flu vaccination and which one you are given depends on a number of factors including your health, if you are allergic to anything, or if you've previously had an allergic reaction to the flu vaccination. All flu vaccines have to meet stringent safety and quality criteria set by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). There are very few people who cannot have a flu jab and most people suffer little more than a sore arm after having it. The Immunisation against Infectious Diseases guide states that reports of adverse effects from the flu vaccination over the past 30 years are very rare. However, with those that have been reported there is no evidence that these adverse effects were caused by the vaccination. The effectiveness of the flu jab this year has been estimated by independent bodies including the Cochrane database, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention as being 62%. We'd just like to end by saying, if anyone is unsure about having the flu jab, or possible side-effects, please speak to your GP.

  • PJL1967  |  January 31 2013, 4:05PM

    ABM_Health, I am pleased you're willing to offer clarification. I am in the so-called 'at-risk' group so this issue is of particular concern to me. Please can you clarify what all the known risks are of possible adverse reactions to the flu vaccine, including the risks of serious adverse reactions such as seizure, coma and indeed death? I ask this because, while there have been an enormous amount of media stories highlighting the possible risks of influenza complications and reporting the alleged benefits of the flu vaccine, I have never once read any mention of the risks of serious adverse reactions from receiving the flu vaccine in these same reports - even though I personally know the risks do in fact exist. And, of course, while it has now been recognised that governments risk loosing even more public trust in such vaccines if they continue to be seen to be 'exaggerating the benefits and minimising the risks' I'm sure you are only to happy to clarifying what these risks are.. Finally, on the subject of exaggerating the benefits, and with particular regard your comet about the Cochrane reviews apparently being somehow invalidated because they were looking at the effectiveness of the vaccination in healthy adults, (whereas you are advocating the vaccine for those in the at-risk groups, such as the over 65's), am I seriously expected to believe that even though the vaccines effectiveness is now know to be seriously limited in healthy adults, you are claiming it is yet somehow far more effective, for example, in over 65's? Surely not? Are you aware the recent highly cited report published by the Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota found that, with regards the flu shots given in the UK, "there were no good studies demonstrating its effectiveness in adults of 65 and over"..? I look forward to your clarification.

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  • ABM_Health  |  January 31 2013, 2:15PM

    We are more than happy to supply evidence to support the messages and information we put out. Our priority is the health of residents in ABM. With the flu jab programme our focus is on people in specific 'high-risk' groups whose health is vulnerable and catching flu could have serious consequences for them. Trncjack – you are absolutely right, there are hundreds of types of viruses around and it isn't possible for one vaccine to cover them all. This is why, every year the World Health Organisation (WHO) assesses and identifies, in advance, which viruses are most likely to cause flu that year and vaccinations are made to match them. The 2012/13 flu jab protects against 3 types of flu and it takes about 10 – 14 days for the jab to become effective once you've had it. However, if you already have a flu virus in your system when you have the jab it won't stop the symptoms. The WHO also produce a paper outlining their position regarding vaccinations. In November 2012 there position was as follows: "Annual vaccination is recommended, particularly for high-risk groups. "Pregnant women should be vaccinated with TIV at any stage of pregnancy. This recommendation is based on evidence of a substantial risk of severe disease in this group and evidence that seasonal influenza vaccine is safe throughout pregnancy and effective in preventing influenza in the women as well as in their young infants, in whom the disease burden is also high. "Elderly persons (≥65 years of age) have the highest risk of mortality from influenza.... Elderly people continue to be an important target for vaccination...... vaccination is still the most efficacious public health tool currently available to protect elderly individuals against influenza. "Persons with specific chronic diseases are at high risk for severe influenza and continue to be an appropriate target group for vaccination." Other sources of evidence include: Influenza Vaccination for Immunocompromised Patients: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis from a Public Health Policy Perspective. (2011) This review found that flu vaccination should be recommended for immuno-compromised patients. Also, in November 2011, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation issued a statement on influenza vaccination supporting the approach of targeting resources on, and ensuring that clinical risk groups are vaccinated as they will benefit the most from the vaccination. PJL1967 – just to clarify, the Cochrane paper you refer to, 'We have conducted four reviews since the late 1990s', reviews the effectiveness of the vaccination in healthy adults. The flu jab programme is specifically targeted at people who are already unwell, for example, with a chronic condition, it isn't targeting healthy adults.

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  • PJL1967  |  January 30 2013, 4:36PM

    Good god, more "evidence-free statements" from ABM regarding the flu vaccine. Don't they know the flu vaccine is "over-promoted" and "over-hyped" and the protection it offers against the seasonal illness has been greatly exaggerated? Haven't these people read or even heard of the independent Cochrane reviews? A 2010 review by the highly respected Cochrane Collaboration, an international network of experts, concluded that the vaccine had little impact in years, like the winter of 2011-12, when the vaccine and the viruses were mismatched. On average, flu vaccine shortened the illness by about half a day but did not reduce the number of people hospitalised, it said. Tom Jefferson, an author of the Cochrane reviews, said: "We have conducted four reviews since the late 1990s. We calculated that you need to vaccinate between 33 and 99 people to prevent one case of flu, depending on the match between the vaccine and the circulating strains of the virus. I want people held accountable for wasting taxpayer's money on these vaccines. The reviews have been available for years and nothing has been done." Anyone who has read the highly respected Cochrane reviews will known the over-hyped vaccines are practically useless at protecting us from seasonal flu and yet we have some doctors apparently busy terrifying unsuspecting people into getting the jab! Why? Whose interests are these people serving if not the patients? Have they been coerced into pedaling these statements in the media, and if so by whom? Or are the merely ignorant of the facts and gullible enough to swallow the snake oil themselves? It would be interesting to know which! Please Liz Perkins, next time you're in contact them for a report on the flu vaccine could you ask them if they are aware of Cochrane reviews?

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  • trncjack  |  January 30 2013, 3:58PM

    so its a coincidence is it, so how come you get the flu a week later , the flu jab only covers ONE flu virus, THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF OTHER FLU VIRUS THAT IT DOES NOT COVER YOU FOR, THIS IS THE BIGGEST CON EVER, FLU VACS ARE ONLY THERE FOR THE BIG FARMA COMPANIES TO MAKE MEGGER BUCKS,if you want to stay healthy dont have it

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