Leah Panapa: Vaccines save the earth

Opinion 31/05/2019

By Leah Panapa, Magic Talk Nights host.

In the book “The War of the Worlds’ by English science fiction writer H.G Wells, aliens from Mars invade our planet, and the human race looks doomed to extinction, but to everyone's surprise the Martians end up dying by an onslaught of earthy pathogens.

Basically they caught the flu!

While its a good book and subsequently some good movies followed - thank you Tom Cruise - Martians haven’t made it to planet earth (yet) but the human race still suffers from the influenza virus.

Like most things in life, kiwis tend to have a ‘relaxed, laid back approach’ about the flu but we should be more mindful.

The influenza virus kills more people in New Zealand than the road toll.

And medical experts are warning we need to take it more seriously.

A 12 year old and a 62 year old have died in Auckland as a result of influenza while in Adelaide flu shots are being offered to homeless as the death toll this season reaches 35.

While some people are at more risk than others, the Immunisation Advisory Centre says vaccination is the best way to stop the spread as well as staying away from people when you are sick.

Like the measles vaccination debate, it is interesting to me how many people I have spoken with who won’t get the flu jab because they think it makes them sick!

That's not how vaccines work, and they do work.

The flu vaccine works by making your immune system produce antibodies that will attack and kill the flu virus when it enters your body. This means that if you get infected with the flu these protective antibodies are already in your bloodstream to quickly fight off the germs.

Bottom line: It's normal to feel soreness, redness, tenderness, or even develop a mild fever or body aches during the two days after you get vaccinated.

That's just your immune response, not the flu illness itself.

Having started the week off work and in bed for a couple of days with what felt like the flu, I took myself off to the Doctor and got my influenza shot. Quick and painless (besides a sore heavy arm for a day) I hope it will see me well for the rest of winter. 

The Martians—dead! ... slain, after all man's devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth.

— H. G. Wells (1898), The War of the Worlds

Leah Panapa is host of Magic Talk Nights.