Swine Flu – now a National Emergency in the US

Posted: October 24, 2009 in General, Politics
Tags: , , ,

Barack Obama signed a bill on Friday night declaring that the outbreak of swine ‘flu seen over the last few months has now become big enough to be declared a national emergency. Basically what this means is that local authorities will now have the power to implement their own emergency strategies and bypass the usual Federal channels they would need to go through to do so. It’s a good move because treatments for people can now be delivered much more quickly and effectively, especially as we are now heading into winter ‘flu season. But, this is the second wave of the swine ‘flu outbreak, and concerns will surely remain as to whether the virus has mutated into a version that is not susceptible to the vaccine that has been developed for it.

Here in the UK, cases have also begun to rise in a second wave, but not in the speed or manner of the current US outbreak. The UK immunisation program is well under way, with those deemed most in need being vaccinated as of last week. In the UK though, concerns remain over how the current postal strike will affect deliveries of the vaccines to surgeries and hospitals. Now again, forgive me if I seem a little naive, but surely a vaccine on a national scale which is designed to stop what is a pandemic virus in its tracks, is too…well, it’s too bloody important to be left to Royal Mail to be delivering? The Government knew about these strikes weeks ago, so if they are having problems, why didn’t they switch to an alternative delivery source? I know it’s expensive, but surely the Government has a duty to ensure this vaccine is delivered on time and safely. To think that it could be delayed because of strike action is putting the country at risk of a serious outbreak, especially as reserves of Tamiflu and Relenza will have dipped from the July peaks of the swine ‘flu outbreak. The Government says it has ordered enough to cover the whole country, yet is still to make a decision as to whether to vaccinate everyone. Priority is obviously given to those most in need, and no doubt the decision as to whether the rest get it will be left to the public to decide for themselves. But with ‘flu vaccination uptake at winter generally as low as 20% is it now that the Government needs to step in and say “Okay, this is now a mandatory vaccine”? I’m not fully au fait with the way our Government is set up to handle national outbreaks, I am assuming we have a dedicated team deisgned to work in the event of situations like this. Surely they should have the power to make decisions without waiting for the approval of whichever Governmental department is in charge of it?

I do wonder though, if the vaccine is made optional, just how many people will take up the option?And will they take the winter ‘flu vaccine at the same time? Given the choice, I will be down there like a shot (no pun intended) to get my doses. I’ve heard enough stories of how bad this ‘flu is in terms of severity to know I’d really rather not catch it!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s