Random · The Kidlets

Venting About the Seasonal Flu Jabs

I think it’s been firmly established that I think the U.K’s NHS is all kinds of awesome.  In fact I have zero complaints about the level of care Master 7 received when his appendix ruptured and even weeks later when his bowels became obstructed.  My hubby has visited the hospital several times for 2 different conditions, one of which he had minor surgery (free of charge) and has always received excellent care.  I think the affordability of medicines especially for pensioners, children and those going through hard financial times (i.e – free!) is brilliant.  Walking into your local GP and out again without paying a cent or having to sign any forms is also very reassuring.

With that in mind, I have a complaint.  A big fat, stinking complaint NHS!

Try as I might I cannot see any possible way of my kids receiving the Seasonal Flu Vaccine this year and I’m pissed.  Now I am not asking for a free vaccine.  I completely understand that people in what the NHS deems the “at risk” group should be the only ones getting their jabs for free.  I’m willing to PAY.  I want to PAY!

Quick back track to why I’m dead set on the family getting the flu jab this year.  I am all for children building up their immune systems.  It is part of childhood after all.  Master 10 spent an entire 2 years when he began daycare (aged 2) with a snotty nose.  I am not exaggerating.  His nose was a squishy green tap of snot for 2 WHOLE YEARS.  I had him at an ear, nose and throat specialist who naturally discovered he was perfectly fine just because it had gone on for such a long time.

I am all for children building up immunity naturally.  Master 5 on our trip home to London yet again “sampled” every germ he could find (bottom of your shoe anyone?) and was up vomiting last night.  As ridiculously tired as I was (I may or may not have slept through his second bout of vomiting, bad Mummy alert!) I couldn’t help but think, “gee, we’ve just enabled our kiddo to sample a strain of something-or-rather that only international travel at a young age could allow…yay to us”.  So why then do I want to get the flu vaccine for my kids this year?

Plain and simple…it’s down to exhaustion.

We’ve lived in the U.K for 2 full cold and flu seasons and we’ve gotten the flu two years in a row.  Maybe it’s that the flu strains in this part of the world are slightly different to what our bodies have encountered in the past or  just bad luck,  but honestly we’ve never been sicker.  The first year was when the Swine Flu hype happened so they weren’t handing antivirals out willy nilly.  I was given the green light for Tamiflu but put it off until it was too late to take it (stupid!).  The second year I didn’t think it was possible but I was even sicker than the year before.

Add into the mix the numerous colds that are inevitably going to make it home with the kids every year, it was a miserable few months.

Hubby will get the flu jab through work (lucky bugger didn’t get sick with the rest of us last year) and as an adult I can just pay at a local pharmacy for them to give me the vaccine but under 18’s who aren’t in the “at risk” group are plum out of luck.

I’m not the only one with this concern.  Here’s an article from the Daily Telegraph earlier this year.  Here’s a follow up article detailing the regulations that are limiting GP’s and Pharmacists from offering the vaccine to healthy under 16’s.

I have the utmost respect for the NHS but on this particular issue I’m flabbergasted that there is no solution to my dilemma.  Even Bupa (a private health insurer)’s website states that their private GP’s do not “offer flu vaccinations to under 18 year olds as we are not licensed by the Care Quality Commission to do so.

Australia’s medicare does not live up to the U.K’s NHS in so many areas but at least back home if you didn’t qualify for the free flu vaccine you could pay $12 to your GP and have the jab done.

These vaccine’s are approved for use in children and in 2009 they placed under 5’s in the “at risk” category because of Swine Flu concerns.  Unfortunately for Master 5 he had already had the flu when they approved him for the jab but my point is that if its safe for the elderly and the sick why can’t a private doctor give my child the flu vaccine?  Especially when I’m willing to pay any reasonable amount to get it done.