Tag Archives: vaccine

How well does your staff wellness plan shape against this year’s killer Aussie flu?

Woman on phone against fire
Get on the hotline. There’s only incomplete defence against A/H3N2 – unless you clobber it first

Make no error, this year’s latest from Oz is a killer.

73 dead already and counting.

Which means don’t play games, get protection in place now, before the worst happens.

You’re prepared of course.

Ready with flu jabs for the whole staff. No exceptions.

If one goes down, they all go down – it’s that kind of killer.

Because it mutates, see? Like all viruses and bacteria, it evolves an immunity from generation to generation. Survival of the fittest – and most lethal.

Dodgy virus, dodgy defence

Doubly dangerous this year, because the vaccine is less effective than usual.

Always a dodgy issue because it’s a guessing game. Before any outbreak happens, top World Health Organization medics have to choose which formula to use against which way they think new virus strains will develop.

Like spin the bottle to stop an epidemic.

Most of the time, they get it sort of right.

But viruses are unpredictable anyway – often flying off at a tangent.

Which is what they’ve done this year. Mutating into a new – and for the moment unconquerable – strain.

Which is why influenza A/H3N2 is not to be trusted – despite being  tracked, mapped and closely documented  since first appearing in 1968.

Hear the warning bells?

You might have everybody lined up for a flu jab. But there’s no guarantee it’s going to work – or even half-work.

So what’s your Plan B?

Because, impressive though they may be – all those free gym memberships, medical consultations, diet advice sessions, stop smoking clinics, feng shui décor options and ergonomic work stations are not going to work against this proven killer.

Only full-on germ elimination will do that.

And yes, there’s germs aplenty in every office. It’s just that they’re so small, they’re totally invisible to us. So we kid ourselves we’re all clear.

Russian roulette

In reality, we’re playing Russian roulette.

Because we don’t see, we don’t notice. And most workplaces are crawling.

For instance:

Our personal hygiene is not much better:

A killer is coming – and we’re unconsciously sitting right in the firing line.

Standing up to A/H3N2 needs at least everyone to wash their hands before and after doing anything.  Not very practical, but doable with antiseptic wipes and gel placed ready on every desk.

Still it’s not enough.

Air: life-giving and deadly

All those surfaces are still contaminated – the nightly go with a vacuum cleaner and wipe-down with a damp rag is way inadequate. Plus the air itself is full of germs too.

We think of it as oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and carbon dioxide – and yes, it is.

It’s also dust, smoke, oil and exhaust fumes, toxic emissions and germs too. A full house of them – colds, flu, norovirus, MRSA, e. coli, salmonella, TB, c. difficile and at least 1,800 other  viruses, bacteria and fungi .

Plus any day now, A/H3N2.

Our only defence apart from soap and water – the HEPA filters in our air-con system. If we have them. But they’re only good for particles down to 3 microns – and A/H3N2 is less than 2 microns.

Not good odds against a known and virulent killer.

Total elimination

Unless we take all germs  out completely. Sterilise the whole place – desks, walls, ceiling, floor, every item of furniture and objects around it – plus of course, the air itself.

So it’s germ-free, safe and secure when we step in each morning.

And there’s only one way to do that with any certainty. Mist up everything every evening with ionised hydrogen peroxide. All germs are oxidised to nothing – including A/H3N2.

What? You don’t have regular hydrogen peroxide treatment as part of your wellness plan?

Better move fast, before the coughs and splutters start.

You don’t want your plan to look like window dressing.

How down and dirty could save your life

Dirty faced woman
Our immune systems might have the dirt on germs – but we still need to wash our hands all the time

No, not beauty treatment or anything like that.

Forget Dead Sea mud and all the pampering clinics. This is good eat-dirt-to-make-healthy-bodies thinking – otherwise known as the “hygiene hypothesis”.

Oh, and you’ve got to do it before you’re more than twelve months old. After that, your immune system is no longer working in turbo mode to remember all the germs it knows how to conquer.

Know your enemy

Actually, the body does keep on discovering these as you get older, but not at the same pace.

Kids who grow up on a farm for instance, are more resistant to allergies and infection. Even early exposure to animal faeces and cockroach droppings seems to be beneficial – in weird conflict with keeping clean and washing our hands all the time.

But there is reason in the madness.

Our immune systems learn how to recognise and fight life-threatening micro-organisms in later life. They even acquire memories of germs they’ve never encountered – hostile pathogens never experienced before that have never entered our bodies.

Segue fast forward to adulthood and the same principle applies.

Developing immunity

Because it seems around half of us have developed an immunity to flu so strong, we just never come down with it any more – no coughs, sneezes, headaches, fever. They just pass us by. Previous infections have built up our resistance, so that our bodies can tell flu viruses to get lost.

And yep, it seems to work against pandemic flu too – we’re able to withstand oncoming waves of bird flu, swine flu and maybe even SARS as well. Not from eating dirt, but from previous exposure to milder infections that teach our immune systems how to handle the real villains.

Kinda like the analogy with cowpox and smallpox.

For centuries, smallpox was a killer virus that caused misery for millions with pus-filled blisters all over the body. But in 1796, Edward Jenner, a doctor in Gloucestershire, discovered that previous exposure to cowpox – a familiar problem on farms – produced immunity to smallpox.

“Vacca” is the Latin word for cow – from which we get “vaccine,” a protection from viruses – and “vaccination”, the jab we get to protect us. Actually for cowpox it’s a series of tiny jabs dipped in vaccine solution – a mild reaction blister develops, but disappears in two weeks – and we are protected.

Washing hands is always vital

All of which does not mean that we should ignore daily hygiene, or that it’s safe to run around with dirty hands.

It was another doctor, Joseph Lister, who discovered that surgery patients were dying because infections were transferred from one case to another by surgeons who did not realise the significance of washing hands between treatments.

And yes, he’s the guy after whom Listerine is named, originally an antiseptic, but now a mouthwash.

We might have immunities, but there’s still plenty of germs out there we haven’t encountered yet – all too ready to do the dirty on us if we stop being careful. (Tweet this)

And the Lister story is significant because it’s about transferring germs, spreading them on contact – either directly, or by things we touch in common with other people – door handles, mobiles, keyboards, knives and forks – what the medics call “fomites”.

Hygiene to protect others

Our immunities aren’t all the same either. So while WE might be safe from a particular germ, the kid at the next desk in school – or the colleague alongside us at work – other people might not be.

How fair is it to give them our germs – infect them with a bug we’re immune to – because we’re too forgetful to wash our hands?

Yes, “down and dirty” teaches our bodies to be strong when we’re infants. It’s also how we need to fight germs when we’re older. All or nothing, brute force, get rid of them.Rediscover Hygiene logo

Because living in communities of others as we do – all of us different – there’s no one-size-fits-all protection we can share.

Except washing hands.

Life-saving habits

Except doing everything to keep germs away from any of us who are vulnerable. To stop any cross-contamination. To keep everything around us clean and germ-free for the same reason. Even to using a Hypersteriliser to sterilise the living space around us.

Dead and gone, germs can’t touch us.

So let’s give them their own dirty treatment straight back again.

How to keep well when flu jabs don’t work

All frosted up
Flu germs are everywhere –
don’t let them get you

Cold and getting colder.

All that stuff sweeping in from Siberia.

The polar bear’s pyjamas.

Worse, according to Public Health England, this year’s anti-flu vaccine is barely effective – working in only 3% of cases.

Defences are down

Not good, particularly if you’re older.

Because this year’s nasty, a mutation from the H3N2 strain of the flu virus, particularly affects the elderly. (Tweet this)

Despite the £100 million spent on flu vaccination annually, this mutation has smartly glitched the guessing game that world health authorities play every winter – deciding which variants of flu virus will be “fashionable” this year.

You still need a flu jab, because other types are still around and each year’s vaccine can usually clobber about three.

But H3N2 has decided otherwise and mutated so much, that this year’s vaccine is about as effective as water.

Flu is not all

Woe and grief, yes – but it’s a useful wakeup call.

You see, it’s not just this year’s flu vaccine that doesn’t work.

It’s a whole slew of medicines – starting with antibiotics.

Big time mutation across the board has made many pathogens immune to them.

So if you’re rushed to hospital with complications from catching flu – cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis or asthma for example – doctors are going to think twice before giving you anything.

Overuse of antibiotics in the last 50 years means that, increasingly, they stop working altogether.

Maybe not so bad with your flu complications – medics can quickly put you on oxygen.

But it’s a disaster for medicine across the board – just about every major procedure in any hospital could fail without them.

Back to the Dark Ages

Any kind of surgery – any incision or breach of the body’s skin – is suddenly a major infection threat. Which is why the big worry among health experts is HAIs – Hospital Acquired Infections.

You go to hospital to have your hernia repaired. But MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) gets in to your surgery area and you’re lucky to escape with your life.

Exactly the headache every surgeon faces with even the simplest case.

But what can you do?

The flu virus is out there and raging rampant. What’s to stop it getting you?

Better than cure

Prevention is what. Simple avoidance.

Alright, you can’t do much in the big outdoors. If it’s your turn to breathe in some H3N2 cells on the rampage, that’s just unlucky.

You also can’t do much if Hooligan Harry sneezes all over you in the lift or Underground. Especially when us Brits are about the most unhygienic people around and never wash our hands enough.

But you can clobber germs indoors so nothing lingers. Sterilise the place when nobody’s around so the germ threshold sinks to zero.

Twenty minutes misting up the place with hydrogen peroxide spray completely destroys all viruses and bacteria. Any room you treat with this stuff is totally sterile.

Which is a lot better defence in your workplace or home than the quick vacuum and dust that most places get.

And why take chances when you can be totally sure?

Especially with so much flu around.

Every year, between 250,000 and 500,000 people die from it worldwide.

Don’t let one of them be you.

Don’t worry, it’s not Ebola – you just need a flu jab

Chicken Running in Snow
Brrr! Ignoring flu in cold weather could do you a lot of no good

The symptoms look the same in the first ten days. Headache, feverishness, sore throat, fatigue.

And make no mistake, flu CAN be a killer. More people catch it – and more people die from it every year – than all the Ebola cases put together.

Relax – there’s no need to suffer – you can get a flu vaccination just about anywhere.

Protection for everyone

It’s quick and easy too – just about anyone can have it.

And it’s not just the oldies who get it for free.

It’s anyone at serious risk of getting the the flu, expecting mothers, or people with a serious condition like asthma or diabetes.

Even your kids can have it – not from a jab, but a nasal spray.

So if it’s that easy, what are you waiting for?

Winter is coming

Because don’t be taken in by all this mild weather. It might be the warmest year in centuries, but this is Britain in winter – and it WILL change. And when those double figure temperatures dip, that’s when your body is vulnerable.

Your GP can do the jab and so can your chemist. If you’re over 65, you’ve probably already had a text message from the NHS, reminding you to book one.

Yes, you do need to book – there’s a few questions to ask first, to make sure you’ll be OK.

Get it done at your desk

You can even get it done at work. Every year, employers face a staggering £1.1 billion cost for lost working time, so maybe you can strong-arm the boss to have it on your company’s medical scheme like BUPA.

There’s also lots of companies that come in to the office and do it on the spot. A quick two minutes and a deserved coffee break.

If you pop into your chemist, reckon on it costing you about £12.

Some places do charge a bit more, but you’ll get extras like a nasal spray and vitamin C tablets thrown in as part of the deal.

Effective protection

Does it work?

Definitely – though since we’re all different, it’s better for some people than for others.

It depends on the type of flu too. The vaccine will cope with most, but there are thousands of varieties and new ones developing all the time. This year’s includes protection against:

  • H1N1 – the strain that caused the swine flu pandemic in 2009
  • H3N2 – a strain of flu that infects birds which was active in 2011
  • B/Massachusetts/2 – another strain that was active in 2012

It’s because these strains keep changing that you need to have the jab every year.

And it’s worth doing because flu can very quickly get serious if you’re not careful.

Don’t take chances

Risk going out when it’s cold and wet and it could turn into pleurisy or pneumonia.

In 1626, the famous philosopher Francis Bacon died from the after-effects of stuffing a chicken with snow bare-handed, trying to win an argument that cold preserved food better than salt.

The chill that he caught turned to acute pneumonia in a damp bed and that was the end of him. A ghost chicken reportedly haunts Pond Square, Highgate to this day.

Perhaps it’s a way of reminding you.

Don’t be chicken about getting your flu jab!