Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Flu Jab

Yesterday, Anne and I had our flu jabs for 2010. I’ve been having them for years now – a form of health insurance. With my reduced lung capacity I need to give the body’s defenses the best possible assistance.

Inoculation and vaccination – the two words have become practically interchangeable – are one of modern medicine’s miracles. When I was a boy I was inoculated against diptheria and tuberculosis, two of the great infant killers of previous centuries. I had the normal string of childhood illnesses, mumps, whooping cough, measles and chciken-pox. Now, most of these are vaccinated against.

During my school days, they were nationwide closed twice because of poliomyelitis epidemics. I took the oral vaccine for that disease in my first year teaching.

When going overseas in the old days one had hepatitis and smallpox injections. Modern travel is less complicated but going to certain areas still necessitates specific vaccination.

When I was executive director of the New Zealand Teachers Council I offered staff free flu vaccination. To my surprise and disappointment most declined. It was in my self-interest as well as a good deed – staff off ill was a costly business. Apathy and ignorance appeared to be the reason.

I gather the health authorities are alarmed at the declining number of parents seeking vaccinations for their children. I’m aware of the possibilities of a negative reaction and of science sometimes getting things wrong. But I’m equally aware of the dangers of disease. I am happy to see the government spending money urging us to get our flu jabs early.

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