Wednesday Wonderings

Have you had the jab yet – whoops sorry, those who have a phobia about needles do not like to hear that word and certainly do not like seeing the constant images on the news of smiling pensioners being vaccinated against Covid. But this is the biggest programme of vaccination in The World ever, so there is plenty to talk about; have you had it, why hasn’t my ninety year old aunt had it yet, which one did you have, should I have it…

I had the phone call on Friday to turn up at 4.30pm on Sunday for AstraZeneca; all weekend  the news was about the effectiveness of AstraZenica, would it resist the South African variant etc.   Who do you trust? There is a sizeable group of people, in every country, who do not trust any Covid vaccination, ranging from those who have a genuine medical reason and have been told not to have it, those worrying if animal products or alcohol are used to make it, through to CIA involvement. I don’t know if those with a needle phobia will also be avoiding vaccination.

This is another issue to divide people, as if we hadn’t enough already. It’s not compulsory in the United Kingdom, but the big picture is to get as many people as quickly as possible vaccinated for any chance of life returning to normal and to save as many lives as possible. Anthony Fauci is one of the world’s leading experts on infectious diseases and now chief medical advisor to US President Joe Biden, who no doubt listens to him more carefully than his predecessor. I heard him on the radio saying if people ask which vaccine they should have he tells them to have whatever is offered as soon as possible, because we can get vaccinated again. Other experts say similar things; my lay reading of all this information flooding into our brains is This is just the Start. Most of us have absolutely no idea what goes on in laboratories, except it involves microscopes and tiny glass droppers. Viruses mutate and in the same way that different flu vaccines are offered each winter, Covid vaccination could need to be updated and offered every year.

Meanwhile back in Southbourne-on-Sea, the fact I was called so soon, when I am not vulnerable, is nothing to do with my age, but the rattling rate at which the NHS are getting the vaccines done! Procuring vaccines in the first place involved a huge operation and cooperation between government and private concerns. This was followed by a great deal of organisation and commandeering of buildings from leisure centres to fire stations.  Regular NHS staff have been joined by retired doctors and nurses and army medics, plus an army of volunteers to herd people safely.

But I did not have to go anywhere adventurous or blogworthy, our local GP surgery was doing jabs with seven rooms open. We all lined up safely spaced and after a couple of minutes outside, it was only ten minutes from going in the front door to going out the back door. As there was a bitter easterly wind, the ten minutes included divesting several layers of clothes and scarves to have an arm ready and putting it all back on again. We filed to desks to get a sticky label with name, date of birth and a mystery number, which was stuck to our information sheet. The advantage of having the NHS is we’re all on the computer; all that has to be done is print out millions upon millions of sticky labels… When I arrived at the needle point there was a doctor to jab and a person tapping into the computer. We get a tiny card to bring back for the second jab, no date, but in 10 to 12 weeks. Of course I am bound to forget where I put the card, so remind me it’s in the top drawer left hand side…

Worrying on Wednesday

The coronavirus has brought back memories of SARS and other health scares:
SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) is caused by the SARS coronavirus, known as SARS CoV. Coronaviruses commonly cause infections in both humans and animals.
There have been 2 self-limiting SARS outbreaks, which resulted in a highly contagious and potentially life-threatening form of pneumonia. Both happened between 2002 and 2004.


Hmm, it looks like coronavirus is SARS replayed. For those of us who are not scientists what the initials stand for is the scary part – you can breathe it in, it floats in the air.
Thinking of SARS reminded me of a visit to my doctors at that time, as an afterthought I asked him about TB. A while before, I had a medical for a job application for a council run playgroup ( for my sake or the children’s I’m not sure ) and passed, but was told I had no immunity to TB. I don’t think we were immunised when I was a teenager in Australia, TB was a thing of the past? Up until then it had not occurred to me to be worried about TB, now I asked what I should do. Go along to my local health clinic was the suggestion; the receptionist at the clinic looked at me as if I was mad, they only did it in schools – until 2005 the BCG vaccine was administered to all children in Britain at the age of 13. I certainly was not going to line up with giggling adolescent girls at the senior school.
Meanwhile back at my GP’s surgery early in the 21st century – He said immunisation was not effective for adults and anyway, I had more of chance of catching SARS than TB – not that I was likely to catch SARS he added hastily.

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At the time, I was working at Heathrow Airport, in the Singapore business and first class lounges, but as we only saw the outgoing passengers there seemed little risk. In fact the only thing that happened was that we had hardly any passengers, nobody wanted to go to Singapore with the SARS SCARE on. Singapore Airlines, usually impressive with their high standards and passenger care, were worried about loss of revenue and somewhere up the chain of command it was decided to cancel the deluxe ice cream for passengers. I could see little saving in that and why should their few remaining loyal passengers be punished for turning up? It was we catering staff who had to explain why their treat was missing in the chiller cabinet!

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Contagious diseases can bring on something more contagious, Xenophobia, fear of Johnny Stranger. Irrational, hidden fear of others can soon become a not unreasonable fear of disease spread by Strangers. When you consider how many people travel, most cities less than a day’s flight from each other, it’s a wonder any of us are still alive! Joan Smith might see a Chinese looking chap in the street and steer clear for fear of catching coronavirus, but he was born in England, never been abroad. At the supermarket Joan Smith stands at the checkout queue with Betty Jones from up the road who has just been on the holiday of a lifetime to China.
How to keep safe? Medieval plagues managed to spread without aeroplanes, but you don’t have to be a scientist to work out you wouldn’t want to sit next to someone with coronavirus on a plane and with that shared air being recirculated, the other passengers are also at risk. Then on landing at a busy airport all the workers are exposed and take the virus home to their families. Best to retreat to the internet as your sole contact with other humans, the only lurking viruses will be in your computer.

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