Swine Flu Vaccine

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by Wendy Wan

The controversy surrounding swine flu continues as the vaccine for it has drawn a whole new debate after it got underway on Wednesday.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon, and Chief Medical Officer Harry Burns were on hand  at Glasgow’s New Victoria Hospital to see the first vaccinations being administered.

The first round of vaccinations will be firstly focused on hospitals, immunising staff members, patients as well as priority groups with conditions such as heart disease, asthma and pregnant woman. 

Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer for England,  urges “people in the priority groups to have the vaccine” as well as frontline health and social care workers to “prevent them and their famillies getting the virus from patients.”  This will minimise any disruption that can be caused to the NHS through staff being absent due to illness.

However the mass immunisation programme has taken place amid the national postal strike and it may cause complications if GPs are to receive their deliveries of the vaccine on Monday.  The delivery of  notices for appointments to those patients classified as at risk could also be disrupted.

It seems that not only is the vaccination programme taking a hit from the strike, but also a report leaked to the Daily Mail in August of a letter from the Health Protection Agency warns the UK Government of the possible implications of the vaccine.  Their warnings come from a scientific  research carried out in the U.S during the 1976 vaccination programme. 

The letter revealed that the similar vaccine used in the 1976 programme in the USA caused the increase risk of contracting Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), and eventually forced the U.S governement to pay out millions of dollars to those affected.

This has led to concerns that the vaccine has not been tested thoroughly enough. 

However, Nicola Sturgeon, the Health Secretary has said that “vaccination is the best defence we have against this new flu strain.”