Monday, November 12, 2007

Flu vaccination

I'm sure, those of us who ever had the flu will know that it is quite desirable to undergo the annual vaccination routine. Depending on what country one lives in there's different rule re access to flu vaccines. For instance, in the UK the NHS limits access to vaccines. GPs are required to prioritize along the lines of age (people above 50 years of age, young kids as well - surprise, surprise - folks working in the NHS). Us teachers, even though we spend hours meeting oodles of people, or bus drivers and such workers, are not a priority according to the NHS.
'Priority' ... that's, of course a pseudo-allocation type of activity. The NHS has decided that it's not worth purchasing sufficient supplies of vaccine, hence the annual scramble to prioritize. In South Africa local pharmacies sell the vaccine to anyone capable of purchasing it. Of course, it would make perfectly sense to simply vaccinate everyone. The incidence of suffering and disease as well as the amount of a given society's productivity losses due to illness could be very significantly reduced. So, for essentially stingy governments to limit access is counter productive. They are failing their citizens health needs.

Equally, I never understood why people who know of themselves to have the flu venture
back to places populated by large numbers of people (school and university class, work places, that sort of thing). Given that the people they mingle with cannot protect themselves against the flu virus spread by people knowing to be infected, I think it's fair to say that a clear cut case can be made in support of the idea that such infected people actively harm their work colleagues, fellow students, fellow aircraft passengers, and so on and so forth. We might be well advised to establish policies that - at a minimum- permit such folks to stay at home (and so contain the spread of the infection).

The good news for me. While I was just about today to enter Daffy's (ever hunting for a bargain) on Broadway and 34th, some guy pushed a leaflet into my hand. Unlike many other folks I always grab such materials and briefly check them (just so I don't miss a bargain). Well, today it paid off. I got a leaflet inviting me to pick up free flu shots that were offered in Manhattan by the American Lung Association. So, instead of going to Daffy's (actually... to be honest ... I simply postponed by 30 min), I got my free flu shots. What a pleasant difference to the nonsense going on in the UK NHS. For once I didn't need to weasel my way into getting access to a flu vaccine that I should be receiving from the public health services or private medical aid schemes anyway. Long live the American Lung Association!

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