Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Lindy McDowell: Time to inject some reality into swine flu

The lady in the US supermarket passed me my change and the customary advice that I should have myself a nice day. And then, as I gathered up my purchases she pointed to a prominent sign.

“Have you had your flu jab?” she enquired. (Cost $24.99, around 16 quid.)

I told her I had not as I was from Northern Ireland.

“Don’t you get flu in Northern Ireland?” she asked, not entirely joking.

I explained that in the event of succumbing to infection I would be throwing myself on the mercy of the NHS - a health service which is coming under much unfair criticism from American politicians.

Interestingly though, there does not seem to be the same hype in the US about the threat from swine flu as there is on our side of the Atlantic. This week the Chief Medical Officer has revised drastically downwards the number of people who could die from it in the UK. (Note the word, could.)

This however coincides with a grim prediction from Stormont that health workers here could (that word again) have to deal with as many as 113,000 cases in just one week. Apart from a lot of tissues being sold I’m not sure what this actually means for any of us.

Are we all going to coup at once?

Why do they feel they have to bombard us with worst case scenarios to prove they’re on top of things?

On this paper’s website one poster has noted about the report: “How very reassuring - but I'm more concerned with cancer and MRSA.”

A very good point.

Shouldn’t all available resources be concentrated on dealing with the real illness in our midst?

Not potential sniffles.

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