Article 1

During a segment on the 7:30 Report on ABC News, Michael Atkin writes about this year’s flu epidemic in Australia. “We are on track for a record flu season” is reported. The worrying video explains the lack of vaccinations and a need for government funding to help push for more people to be vaccinated, ultimately improving flu statistics. It is obvious as the viewer of the report, that there is a strain on hospitals, as many spots are filled up with people obtaining illnesses related to this flu.

Furthermore, this takes up lots of time from the nurses and also accommodation in hospitals. This is very disrupting and an annoyance because nurses should not be occupied by patients who have simply not got the shot this year. This is also very inconsiderate as there are many other higher priority cases of sick and injured people, and that is where the time, accommodation and funds should be going.

I believe that the government should take these statistics into consideration and if possible prioritise funding for free vaccinations for all Australian citizens, not just Aboriginals, pregnant women and the elderly. According to the report, Michael Atkin says that children are known as super spreaders, therefore I strongly think that if the government simply is not capable of placing such funds in this direction to pay for all citizens to have a free vaccinations, then at least the schools and kindergartens should be. And this is a must. I am sure that if this wore to happen, next year we would all see a huge improvement in the results of the flu epidemic as it will be highly accessible.

Article 2

This article by Cathy Johnson and James Bullen is a written ABC News interview featuring infectious diseases expert Professor Peter Collignon, from the Australian National University’s Medical School. Peter Collignon responds to the questions with concerning statistics suggesting that there had been a confirmed 2.5 times the number of influenza cases compared to last year. He admits that this is a 50% rise, and that the actual severity of the infections hasn’t really worsened compared to previous flu seasons, just the number of cases. This seems to be due to the ineffective vaccines that were given amongst the population. “About 5% of Australian will have had the flu this year”, and preliminary data proves that the vaccine only had only a 15 to 20% protection. From this we can conclude that from the people who were vaccinated and then exposed the the virus, 85% still got infected compared to last years 40 to 50% protection.

This societal issue has clearly worsened over time. Figures that were recently collected by ABC 7:30 say that there has been a confirmed 370 influenza deaths across four states, mostly in aged care facilities. The problem is that the vaccines need to be prepared and ordered to be ready to go for the beginning of the flu season, but the start of the flu season is when the doctors can identify what strain is coming this year. So the strain of the vaccines aren’t always a proper match, as it is assumed what strain will come this upcoming season before it starts. As Professor Collignon says, “The vaccine just often isn’t as effective as you’d expect it to be. We don’t know why… We really need a better vaccine. We need a different design of vaccine that gives us protection for the next 5 or 10 years, no matter what strains come”.

Article 3

This SBS video wade dedicated to a poor mother who got the worst of the flu season this past year. Matt Connellan reports the unfortunate story about the 40 year old mother of three, as questions are raised regarding the vaccine qualities. She thought she just had a cold or slight flu and that it would go away on it’s own, without consulting with a doctor or GP. The husband goes on to say that “she has paid for her life by not doing that”, referring to her not seeing a doctor. She is one of more than 500 flu related deaths this year, and this is particularly why many doctors have blamed the vaccines this year. To put this into further context, last year we had a bit over 91,000 confirmed laboratory notifications of influenza,, compared to this year’s staggering more than 217,000 cases, with NSW taking the hardest hit.

The immunisation coalition, Paul Van Buynder states that the vaccine companies didn’t bring the right ones into Australia and at the same time the government’s chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy claims that cost had nothing todo with it. Whilst it may be the case that the vaccines weren’t perfect this year, many including myself believe that too few people are being vaccinated, despite how efficient they are. In conclusion, I believe that no matter how good or bad, or efficient or inefficient the vaccines are, it all comes down to the number of people actually being protected with the vaccine. This is because that the vaccines will only protect us to it’s full potential if more people get it.

Article 4

The Quanta Magazine article by Tara C.Smith is all about the unforgiving math that stops epidemics. It goes into further detail about the level of immunity in a population that’s needed to prevent an outbreak from happening, in this case it is particularly the flu epidemic. It introduces at the beginning of the article the idea of people rationalizing skipping flu shots because one may make himself/herself believe that they don’t need it due to many incorrect reasons. They may tell themselves these things to get out of having the injection because maybe they don’t want to spend the money, or they are scared/nervous about getting a shot, or they just don’t believe in them. These reasons that many believe could include people thinking that they are very healthy so that they won’t get sick or they will get over it quickly if they do, or people not caring saying that “if I get sick, I get sick” or just thinking that because they have never had the flu, they will never get it.

When people say or think these things, they don’t realise that they are not only endangering and negatively impacting their own health, but also all the others that surround them. This a selfish act if you think about it. When vaccination levels are high enough amongst a group of people, this creates a protection barrier which aids in preventing the whole crowd of obtaining the exposed disease. This is called an immunological barrier that can even protect the few that aren’t vaccinated. This is why I believe that is is so important to be vaccinated against the common diseases such as the flu, chickenpox, measles and others.