Of course in a crisis such as this the anti-vaccination groups have a field day. This is not to say that I think we should ignore occurrences where a vaccine has shown to have adverse reactions,  but the lack of effective communication to the community with regards to risk vs benefit at these times means that these groups can point the finger and say  “see, I told you so.” It is easy under these circumstances to see the level of distrust in the large biopharma and government agencies increasing in the community due to effective and often emotive communication techniques used by the anti-vaccination advocacy groups.  In a crisis the risk is there for all to see and it is how this risk is communicated by various interest groups that determine how the community responds.

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3 Responses to

  1. Joan Leach says:

    Hi Sally…interesting stuff. Here’s one I’d love to hear about… So, let’s say you get the flu shot here in OZ for flu season. Then, you want to head to the North for ski season and wonder…is Australia ahead of the rest of the world on the flu season…or behind? So far, I’ve gotten 3 different answers so I’m keen to hear what you come up with…

    Or…here’s another one. In the past year, the US and Canada used nasal sprays to vaccinate for swine flu insisting that youngsters under 10 were crucial to get vaccinated. Australia waited and left under 10s unvaccinated for 8 months insisting that everyone else get vaccinated and thus lower the probability of transmission to under 10s. Of course, Australia didn’t buy the nasal spray; it bought the multi-dose vials. So, how much public health is getting decided by financial decisions of what vaccine to buy?

    • slygg says:

      Hi Joan. I have just been to a conference that discussed flu vaccination and I presented your query to the speaker. Lets see if I can explain. Apparently there are two cycles and zones for the seasonal flu, Northeren and Southern Hemisphere. These zones do not interact however the strains of flu within those regions are very similar. Before the start of each flu season in either hemisphere the various strains of flu are identified by WHO and CDC and the vaccine is typically made up of the most predominant three strains. This process occrus in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. Generally the flu vaccines are similar in both zones and may differ by one strain. Therefore to answer your question, one season does not preseed the other and the compostion of each hemispheres flu vaccine is independantly determined, although usually very similar.

    • slygg says:

      With repect to your query regarding financial decisions impacting on vaccine choice, I have not looked into this in much detail. However, I am sure that as with all industries, decisions are frequently determined based on financials. Australia has been criticised for their seemingly biased relationship with CSL, of which the majority of our seasonal and swine flu vaccines are sourced. As I mentioned in my blog, this seasons flu vaccine for under five year olds has been withdrawn from use due to an increased level of side effects in that age group. Looking at the alternative flu vaccines for that age group that are sources overseas, there has been very little if any side effects yet these vaccines were not available to the community.

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