GPs have been told to get a move on and order their flu vaccines for this autumn (Pulse Today, log-in/sign-up needed). This is to avoid the shambles of the last flu season in which some areas ran out.
I have, in the whole, come out against flu vaccines of late, not least because I’m mostly housebound so less vulnerable that in the past. However, because I now have heart failure, the severity of which is STILL unknown after 4 months, I think it might be wise to have it myself in future (however long that might be – I really need to know that).**
This is partly because I have lost quite a bit of capacity in my left lung since the empyema of January (it’s impossible to fully inflate the lung, which also affects my right lung too). Add to that left ventricular failure and the strains imposed by a bout of flu may well prove too much.
What I’m trying to find out – and failing – is whether there are plans to lump the aging (expires late 2011), swine flu vaccine in with the one for annual flu.
The NHS website, I see, still contains the disinformation than H1N1 is swine/pandemic flu. IT IS NOT.
H1N1 is normal human Type A flu which most people of my age have already encountered and have a degree of immunity (probably why it affected young people so badly – they hadn’t). In swine flu H1N1 combined with elements of porcine and avian flu to create an entirely novel virus. This did not stop the NHS from offering H1N1 vaccinations as alleged protection against swine flu – it would protect against the human Type A component, not the porcine and avian components. Just one of the reasons I refused it.
What they might be up to this year, to offload any remaining pandemic vaccine I don’t yet know, but you can be sure they’ll try to find a way, rather than just write off the loss, which is what they should do, because even if swine/pandemic flu comes back this winter, there is every chance that it will have changed, because that’s what flu does bets – it constantly mutates (in Stephen King’s post-flu-apocalypse novel, The Stand, the flu continued it’s mutating process while in the body, rendering it almost universally fatal – there’s a happy thought!).
Anyway, there’s no information about what the buggers might be up to this year as yet, but I’ll keep an eye on the situation, and as soon as I have any hard information, you’ll be the first to know.
**For those who think I’m banging on a bit too much about that, just hope you’re never in my position – left ventricular failure dominates almost everything you do, or want to do, not least because it’s somewhat unpredictable, but also because it’s unfixable too. It’s only going to end one way – it’s just a matter of when, and I have no desire to bring that day forward if I can avoid it. The left ventricle pumps blood around the body – if it doesn’t, you’re dead very quickly.