- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
The Flu, and the annual Flu Shot
The public's interest in the Flu (Influenza) is considerable, and every year many newspaper articles and TV reports make sure that it stays that way!
In 2003, extensive reports signaled that the flu had struck faster and harder than in other years in New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas, and on TV the first flu death in Mississippi was covered extensively.
The comments were sensational as usual, with lots of "never before", "never as early", "never as serious", "a record number of patients", etc. Which of course immediately created a stampede for flu vaccines.
But there was just a tiny little problem !
As it does every year, this year's flu-cocktail had been pieced together four months earlier by the Food and Health Organization, in collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry. Even then, it was mentioned that the A-section of the new virus might contain a Fuji-strain.
Up-to-date Flu Shots
Unfortunately, it would take the pharmaceutical industry far too long to first isolate this strain, and also too expensive to include this variant in this year's flu-cocktail. Ergo, forget about the Fuji-strain and just let the cash till ring with the "classic" flu vaccine...
But the flu epidemic happened to strike rather violently, and the cynicism of the pharmaceutical industry and the "medical" commentators would be laughable, if the matter hadn't been so serious.
There are actually only two companies that manufacture the flu vaccine every year. The planned number of Flu shots was already sold out before the start of the epidemic, and additional flu shots are never manufactured. There are two commercial reasons for this. First, who is going to pay for them, and second, what to do with those flu shots that aren't used ?
Even for John Smith, who is usually led by the unwitting nose, this ridiculous situation apparently became too much.
So the powers that be promptly decided to counter the criticism with a very public move. More than 100,000 flu shots, that were actually destined to be shipped abroad, were diverted with much ado to the American public . That foreign customers would have to do without their own orders, was just a small detail that was not mentioned in the media...
The Fuji Strain
Another bizarre aspect of this flu-pandemonium was that the flu vaccine didn't include the Fuji-variety. Which meant that ten to thirty percent of the people that were hospitalized, had actually been administered a completely useless flu vaccine...
This giant blooper was however modestly suppressed. To the contrary, the media attention was eagerly seized to already advertise for next year's flu vaccine...
Furthermore, the media displayed tons of "professionals", whose job it was to reassure the public by solemnly proclaiming that in fact the flu season was already over, and/or that this particular Fuji strain would gradually be replaced by other, less severe strains !
That certainly proved to be a big support for worried parents, whose child was in the hospital with high fever...
The flu kills approximately 36,000 people every year, in the US alone. Unfortunately, exact figures don't seem to be available. Indeed, they would be most undesirable, because they are politically negative and most certainly annoying...