If you see a young and previously healthy person die from influenza then it is not a hard decision to have the vaccine. You realise that it can make anyone really unwell. This happened to me and many of the doctors, nurses and therapists on the Intensive Care Unit that I worked on, in 2009, during the “swine flu” pandemic. There were queues of us waiting for a jab and we ran out of vaccine temporarily.
Swine flu may have been a bit different in that it affected so many people. But every year many young and old die from influenza. Many more are wiped out, for days or even weeks, feeling really unwell. We are not talking about the viruses that cause a cold – these last a few days which we can usually battle through. “Proper” influenza can make people dreadful.
Vaccination protects ourselves, our families and our patients. We are exposed to influenza more than most people by travelling to work in a big city and working in a hospital. The vaccine does not protect us against the viruses that cause colds.
I will be in the queue this year. I hope I will be getting “I’ve been brave” sticker and sweet at the same time.
Simon Finney, critical care consultant