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Who should you contact if you think you've got swine flu?

Who should you contact if you think you've got swine flu?

Published: 04 Sep 2009 15:50 GMT+02:00
Updated: 04 Sep 2009 15:50 GMT+02:00

As regional health authorities continue to iron out their mass vaccination strategies, The Local speaks to Sören Andersson and Aase Sten at the Institute for Infectious Disease Control (Smittskyddsinstitutet) about Sweden's reaction to the new swine flu.

Sweden has ordered enough vaccines to cover the entire population. How come Sweden wants everyone to get vaccinated while other countries seem less keen?

Sören Andersson, head of Smittskyddsinstitutet's virology department: It is impossible to say which strategy to go for, but we calculate it will be a lot cheaper to vaccinate everyone rather than having people getting ill. The vaccine costs nothing in comparison. People don’t have to get vaccinated but we strongly recommend it, not only for your own health but out of consideration for others too. Unless the virus mutates, the vaccination will give you the proper protection for a few years.

How safe is the new vaccine?

Sören Andersson: People are worrying that it has only taken a few months to produce it, but this is not the case. Vaccines against flu have been used for many years and the new flu vaccine contains something called adjuvants, which already exist in other vaccines that have had acceptable side effects in the past. To create a completely new vaccine in just a few months is not possible.

What does Tamiflu do?

Sören Andersson: If given to the patient during the first two days of the flu it will stop the virus from spreading. But we can’t give it out to everyone, as it would result in extreme overuse.

On Friday it was announced that children up to three years old won’t be given the vaccine. Why is that?

Sören Andersson: We still don’t know who we can vaccinate; it is all being looked into by the European and Swedish medical products agencies. This sort of vaccine has never really been used on young children and it is therefore hard to know how they will respond to it. We will know a lot more about who can or cannot get the vaccine by the end of the month, when it is time to start vaccinating people.

Who will be prioritised?

Sören Andersson: So far it has been decided that health care staff and people who are in medical risks groups will be prioritised.

If you suspect that you have the new flu, who should you contact first?

Sören Andersson: You should contact Sjukvårdsupplysningen (medical advice line – tel. 1177) or your local clinic (Vårdcentralen). It is really important to contact Sjukvårdsupplysningen if you are having, for example, problems breathing, coughing blood, high fever or feeling dizzy.

Is the new flu being take too seriously in Sweden?

Sören Andersson: Not really. We are trying to give accurate information about what we know and we don’t want to scare people. Most people do only get a mild flu from this, but the problem is that it is a new virus; we don’t yet know what will happen in the future. If we don’t react in time it will be too late if it does get worse. We’d rather look back on it knowing that we did too much than too little. It would be a catastrophe if it was ‘too late’.

In addition, we are learning a lot during this process. If this virus turns out to be less harmful than we first thought, we will at least be prepared for the next one. The attention the new flu is getting could also serve as a reminder about other influenzas that actually kill thousands of people every year- a number that would decrease if more people got vaccinated.

How long will it take to get everyone vaccinated?

Aase Sten, press secretary at Smittskyddsinstitutet: If everything goes according to plan, everybody should be vaccinated around the beginning of 2010.

Swedish media seem to be covering the swine flu with more regularity than the press in other countries. Why do you think this is?

Aase Sten: There is a lot of information in Sweden coming from the authorities. The Institute for Infectious Disease Control, the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) and the national website for emergency information (Krisinformation.se) all have loads of information on their websites and we are doing everything we can to inform people and to be approachable to journalists. This gives the media easy access to a lot of material.

Another reason might be that Sweden is a fairly wealthy country. At times when nothing else is going on, there is swine flu.

If there is anything else you would like to know about swine flu treatment in Sweden, please drop us a line at news@thelocal.se.

Malin Nyberg

Paul Rapacioli (paul.rapacioli@thelocal.com)

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Your comments about this article

01:23 September 5, 2009 by justanotherexpat
That should be "WHOM should you contact....".

If you are going to translate Sweden's news into English then please at least do so correctly. Thank you!
19:19 September 5, 2009 by askin
I have the following questions:

1. Should one vaccinate himself against the normal flu AND the swine flu? One doctor said both vaccinations together at the same time would be too much. If one doesn't vaccinate himself against the normal flu but only the swine flu, one doesn't get ill from the swine flu perhaps, but what about the normal flu? They say both are equally deadly.

2. I read that SANOFI started a vaccine production plant in Mexico, investing several hundred million dollars, 6 months before the first case of swine flu appeared in Mexico. How did they know that swine flu would start in Mexico. Also I read that Baxter patented their swine flu vaccin 6 months prior to the outbreak of the swine flu. How's that possible?

3. I read also, in the first round of tests, swine flu vaccin was given to 11 men in Ireland in the spring of 2009 and all 11 died. I suppose the vaccin must have been bettered

on ots quality since then.

4. The swine flu vaccin contains Squalene, a substance forbidden in USA after it gave severe side effects in the Gulf War. (Like paralysis, other neurological disorders) and billions of dollars of compensation had to be paid.

Does the new swine flu vaccin give the same side effects?

I understand the producers sell the vaccine with no guarantees against dangerous side effects.
14:33 September 7, 2009 by emil_sweden
As far Vårdcentralen goes......dont expect much more than this......

''Please dont come in as we dont want you infecting other people. Stay at home, drink lots of liquids and continue taking whatever medication you have been taking..........even if it has been 5 days already and you feel like you are dying. If it gets alot worse in another 5 days then call us again and we will see what can be done''

Or maybe things have changed a little since my experience 3 weeks ago! I certainly do hope so...for those unfortunate cases where it does turn out to be swine flu!
17:05 September 9, 2009 by diana eriksson
I am thankful that you have written this article concerning what to do in case you believe that you may have the swine flu. My husband and I have had this discussion quite a few times and I have come to the conclusion that there are a lot of swedes out there that don't know what they should do if they think there is the possibilty that they may have the swine flu.

I was quite sick for the past few daysand told my husband that I would like to go to the hospital just in case it could be the swine flu. The reason I felt that way was because I had the symptons which we were asked to look out for, if we do get the swine flu.

>My husband didn't think it was serious but we called the vårdcentral and the nurse said they don't check any more , if one has the flu, to find out if it is swine flu or not. I amthinking to myself if this is so, how would on know if he or she has the swine flu or not. I am feeling better now but the point is why can't Iknow. It was such a terrible flu, didn't I have the right to know if it was the swine flu or not.? I am quite perturbed about this .what do yo readers think?
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