Last night local current affairs program Campbell Live ran a story comparing two staff members and their decision to vaccinate or not, ’of course’ choosing one ‘for’ and one ‘against’ for balance.

You can view the footage* and read the comments they quoted and subsequent comments on-line. (To get back to the quoted comments from the video footage, you’ll need to keep pressing ‘View previous comments’ until you’ve got them all displayed – there’s a few hundred of them now!)

Overall the story seems well done. We’ve discussed communication of vaccine issues before here – what do think of Doctor Cameron‘s efforts?

Here’s what Aspiring Health, from twitter, thinks: ’Seriously Dr Cameron on @CampbellLiveNZ is the jolliest GP ever!’ He certainly presents with gusto and exudes bonhomie. Personally, I think he did an excellent job.

Their presentation leads with a few quotes from their Facebook page (linked above). The first two are opinions. The next two make claims, neither of which are correct. Unfortunately I’m out of time to address these properly so I’ve excepted them below for readers to take my place. (I’m flat out here… but I can’t help make a couple of brief comments.)

The third quote in the video:

No, if we have a healthy diet our body should be able to look after itself and build up our own immunity to the flu, I believe our bodies will become ‘lazy’ and unable to fight off new strains if it can’t cope with strains we have now, if i do get the flu i’ll take echinachea and i’m usually ok within 24hrs!

Our bodies gain immunity to illnesses through exposure to either the infection or preparations based on parts of the infectious organisms – what vaccines are in essence. To gain immunity in the way Nichola suggests, she would have to become infected. (A healthy diet will not prevent you from catching a viral illness.) That those who are ‘run down’ from a poor diet may be more vulnerable once infected but does not mean that those with a good diet will not suffer.** The mention of 24 hours makes me think Nichola has had colds (i.e. not a ’flu) that have recovered naturally. These also bring up a point Tristram Clayton and Dr. Cameron made – influenza is not ‘just a bad cold’, it’s more severe. Dr. Novella at Science-based Medicine has reviewed evidence for/against use of echinachea for colds and flus; he finds studies come out against its use. Developing immunity to one strain doesn’t ‘tire’ or make your immune system ‘lazy’.

The fourth:

So basically you’re jabbed with last years flu…..hmmm? No thanks.

Influenza follows a pattern of emerging from South-East Asia; this is monitored and the vaccines we receive are based on what is emerging from SE Asia that are anticipated might predominate here.

One thing I’d add to what was presented was that those who are self-employed, work in small companies or in important positions might want to consider the effect of be laid out of work for a week when they consider the value of the influenza vaccine. In the case of the self-employed, for example, you don’t get paid while you’re sick. You can leave aside the ‘medical’ arguments (not that I would myself) and look at it from a financial/employment/productivity view too.


* I’d embed this in this post if it were possible, but you’ll have to trek over there I’m afraid.

** Anecdotally I’ve ‘been there and done that’, too. From personal experience the ’flu is not a nice illness, it really knocks you flat.

Some of the other vaccine-related articles on Code for life:

Immunisation then and now

Fact or fallacy, a survey of immunisations statements in the print media

Sources for medical information for non-medics and non-scientists

IAS talks about vaccination