Tom Nolan on historic flu remedies

Last week we learnt who will be offered the vaccine against swine flu first. Priority groups include people in high risk groups age between 6 months and 65 years, pregnant women, household contacts of immune-compromised people, and clinical staff. But how many people will actually go and have the vaccine? If a recent poll of nurses in Nursing Times is anything to go by, uptake will be low, as the Daily Mail  reports:

“Of 1,500 Nursing Times readers, 30 per cent would not say yes to the vaccine, while 33 per cent said maybe. Just 37 per cent said they would definitely have the jab.  Of those who said they would refuse the jab, 60 per cent said their main reason was concern about the safety of the vaccine. A further 31 per cent said they did not consider the risks to their health from swine flu to be great enough, while 9 per cent thought they would not be able to take time off work to get immunised.”

It seems some of the respondents are still not convinced that swine flu is real. One told the Nursing Times: “I have yet to be convinced there is a genuine health risk and it’s not just government propaganda.”

But should nursing and other clinical staff put their worries about their own health to one side for the greater good? Professor David Salisbury, the Department of Health’s director of immunisation, certainly thinks so:

“They have a duty to their patients and they have a duty to their families. I think you solve those responsibilities by being vaccinated.”

Are you worried about having the vaccine? Are you satisfied with its safety? Leave a comment below.

Advertising swineThe Times  has been through its archives and found over a dozen adverts for cold and flu cures. One advert, in 1911 for Wincarnis, sounds like it was written only a few weeks ago for one of the tabloids:


“From various parts of the country come reports that influenza is actually raging at the present time and is spreading with alarming rapidity from one person to another.

The only solution is to take Wincarnis, of course:

But – the influenza germ cannot obtain a hold upon you if your system is fortified by Wincarnis. Because Wincarnis creates a plentiful supply of new, rich, re-vitalised blood which, by natures law is so constituted that it is easily able to repel all disease germs.

Another remedy, Milton, seems to have slipped through the net since 1919 after apparently showing great promise:

“In several Lancashire cotton mills they started using Milton during the epidemic last winter, mixing it with the water that is usually sprayed by humidifiers through the workrooms to keep the air damp enough for spinning. The results startled the managements. Influenza disappeared from every mill where Milton was used. The byword was ‘where Milton is, Influenza isn’t.’

If anyone has any Milton lying around please let me know. It might come in handy over the next few months.

Tom Nolan is a GP trainee.