Northernheckler's Blog

A Yorkshireman's adventures in the big Smoke

Flu Jabs do not give you flu !

In my Facebook feed this morning was a link to this “News” story :Piers Morgan receives flu vaccine injection from Dr. Oz, then gets sick

The article relates that celebrity UK journalist Piers Morgan, appeared in US television having a flu jab, live, in an apparent attempt to convince the public of the safety and efficacy of flu vaccines; but that after the jab, he then came down with influenza – and concludes :

Millions of Americans now know that flu shots can make them sick, thanks to Piers Morgan

The author adds : It is difficult not to chuckle at the whole ridiculous charade. What was meant to further pull the wool over the eyes of gullible Americans literally blew up in the face of those that perpetrated it, as millions of Americans have now had their eyes opened to the fact that flu shots are dangerous and can, indeed, cause flu-like symptoms and other health damage.

Well excuse me if I don’t chuckle – excuse me if I go away and weep in despair at the sheer bloody ignorance of people who frankly don’t know shit from shinola.

When you get a flu jab you’ll get a leaflet tel you what it can do, and what it can’t do.

Typically a flu jab helps prevent infection from around three different strains of flu. It won’t prevent you from catching it – but it will dramatically reduce the chances. In the unlikely event that you do catch one of those strains of flu it’s likely that the effects will be less severe than if you were not vaccinated.

If you catch a strain not covered by the vaccination – of which there are many  – you will not be covered at all – and stand more or less the same chance of catching flu as you did before – however the strains in the vaccination represent the ones most likely to be caught at that time, and the ones most likely to cause a severe illness.

You can not contract flu from the vaccination – it’s not a live virus – this can not happen.

You can suffer from side effects from the virus – the most likely is a mild fever in the hours following the jab. From personally experience I can say that your arm’s a bit stiff for a day or two as well.

You could suffer an allergic reaction to the jab – the likelihood is tiny – far less than the likelihood of catching flu.

You could just conceivably contract Guillain-Barré syndrome – however the risk of this happening is no greater – and probably lower than the risk of contracting the same condition via catching flu – as a calculated risk it makes sense to vaccinate.

This information is well researched – it’s out there in Doctors’ surgeries, clinics, Health department websites – it’s very easy to find – It’s been researched properly and scientifically.

So what does Piers Morgan’s flu jab and subsequent illness show us ?

Well it shows he has a flu jab. It shows he lost his voice 11 days later.

And that’s it basically. It doesn’t show that he had flu, it doesn’t show that it was caused by the virus, it doesn’t show that the virus was ineffective.

All of the information we have from this report is absolutely consistent with the information that is routinely given out to people taking the vaccination

It would be as sensible to say :

Piers Morgan drank a cup of coffee on January 11th, and on January 23rd complained of losing his voice


Millions of Americans now know that coffee can make them sick thanks to Piers Morgan

And of course people will say – well how can you trust all that research and Government information ?

Right – Well maybe I’m a sucker for authority but I’d sooner trust the global research community and the US & UK Governments than “The NaturalNews Network”  which  “is owned and operated by Truth Publishing International, Ltd., a Taiwan corporation. It is not recognized as a 501(c)3 non-profit in the United States, but it operates without a profit incentive, and its key writer, Mike Adams, receives absolutely no payment for his time, articles or books other than reimbursement for items purchased in order to conduct product reviews.”

There are two sad aspects to this story, the first is that there will be people who will read this article and as a result will not be vaccinated against flu, and will die this year – because they catch flu.

The other is that yet again it becomes more difficult to argue coherently and sensibly about any subject, when large numbers of people around the world are either incapable of, or unwilling to critically analyse news information, to tell the difference between fact and opinion, and to carry out even the most cursory checks on the accuracy of information that they pass on. These are skills that are taught in primary schools – why can’t intelligent adults apply the skills they have been educated in ?

Most articles that come my way via Facebook are generally misleading or in some cases entirely untrue  – it’s seems sad that we’ve developed our technology to the extent that we can now use it to go back to the ignorance of the dark ages

What 'S' is it traditionally quite easy to tell from Shinola ? - well for most people anyway !

What ‘S’ is it traditionally quite easy to tell from Shinola ? – well for most people anyway !

January 30, 2013 Posted by | education | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Recipe for Hemicrania Continua

Around six years ago, my wife started getting excruciating headaches for no apparent reason.

Bromo-Seltzer advertisement for headache medic...

Unfortunately Bromo Seltzer didn't manage to quite get my wife into a ta ra ra boom de ay frame of mind

They seemed to be non-stop, and whatever she took for them, they never disappeared completely.

Six years later they still haven’t disappeared, and my wife, now out of work, disabled, and almost always in pain because of a condition diagnosed as Hemicrania Continua, is due to be admitted for surgery on Wednesday of this week, in a bid to alleviate her difficulties.

I’m hoping to blog about this over the next few days and weeks to let people know how she gets on, how our family gets on, and to bring her disabling condition – Hemicrania Continua – to the attention of a wider audience – that they may understand it more thoroughly, and hopefully help society become better disposed towards helping people who have it.

So what is Hemicrania Continua ?

Well the dry medical definition is that Hemicrania – or HC – is a rare form of “primary headache” – that is a headache for which no cause can be found – it is that it is. (and if that sounds as if it doesn’t make much sense then do please tell my wife about it !). It’s related to other forms of primary headache conditions such as Cluster Headache – CH . Cluster Headache is usually several extremely severe headaches coming rapidly one after another in a very short time. Although attacks can be very frequent, or perhaps not so frequent, there are periods of respite in between.  Hemicrania is a usually a left sided constant bi-lateral headache – it’s down one side of the head only and may vary in intensity, but is usually ever present. It’s a disabling condition, many sufferers have to give up their jobs, and medication used to treat it can cause a large number of side-effects – some of them very unpleasant.

I could – and will – tell you more about HC  later – but for the time being I’ll leave you with this recipe for Hemicrania Continua from Liz – a Hemicrania Continua sufferer who posts on the Ouch website – Ouch is the Organisation for the Understanding of Cluster Headache – and acts as an umbrella group for all rare headache conditions. Please do visit their site.

Here’s the recipe :

Recipe for Hemicrania Continua

Take some labour pain – increase the strength a little

Add: a burning sensation
a strong feeling of weakness
some vomiting
sensitivity to light and sound
blocked nose on affected side
blurred vision
slurred speech
drooped and watery eye on affected side

Stir well

Now pull the pain through the corner of your left eye until it goes right through your head so you can feel the pain of it coming out the other side.

Send stabs of strong sharp pain through the top of your head from time to time.

Boil well for at least 72 hours

Simmer for 12-24 hours

Boil again for 12-24 hours

Simmer again for a few hours

Boil again for 12 hours

Repeat this for the rest of your life occasionally swapping sides.

Oh by the way, I forgot to say, while you are doing this you must cook, clean and shop for yourself and go out to work.

Does that sound like fun ?  No ? That’s right, it’s not !

Please check back here to see how my wife and our family get on.

June 27, 2011 Posted by | Disability, Election 2010, Family, Uncategorized, women | , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Cameron : We’re even worse than Bulgaria !

Regular readers of my blog might have spotted a vaguely familiar statement from David Cameron in last night’s Leaders Debate on ITV television.

In my post Things that bug me – Part 2 on April 2nd, I moaned about the misleading reporting in the Daily Mail England’s poor cancer detection and bad diet mean Slovenian women live longer of the Government report ‘Health Profile of England 2009’ DoH Health Profile of England

I complained amongst other thing’s of the Mail’s tendency to pick an Eastern European country at random for us to be “worse than” – in what appeared to be an attempt to capitalise on racism against Eastern Europeans for sensational effect.

It seems David Cameron must have appreciated it – last night he chose not Slovenia but Bulgaria to compare our “oh so terrible” health care with.

While there would seem to be some evidence from WHO that his statement was in essence correct – that there are more deaths from cancer in Bulgaria per head than in the UK at least according to the Sofia news agency  Bulgaria Pops Up in UK Historic Debate – Sofia News Agency ; the Department of Health’s own published data (ie. the document linked to above)  – which is produced in close consultation with other countries, would appear to suggest otherwise.

Check out the table 3.1 on page 61 – it quite clearly shows that UK & English cancer deaths have a lower incidence than in Bulgaria. That’s not to say that we’re ideal though – David Cameron could have said we were worse than Ireland or Italy – or better than Denmark or Spain. Whichever country he chose to compare us with would have been misleading though – because on page 49 we have a chart that tells us that “there has been a steady decline in the mortality rate [from cancer] between 2000 and 2008. It is evident that the mortality rate has decreased faster for males in recent years than for females”.

So irrespective of whether we are or are not “worse than” Bulgaria, the number of deaths from cancer, has been reducing steadily during the incumbency of the present Labour government.

So Labour’s record is unarguably better than the Conservatives’  in relation to deaths from Cancer.

If I might conjure up a phrase from the recent past : “Don’t you dare lecture us on Cancer Mr Cameron !”

April 16, 2010 Posted by | blogs, Election 2010, politics | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Things that bug me – Part 2

Well I said I’d make up for lost time.

My second blog of the night – My earlier one can be found here : Things that bug me ! – Part 1 « Northernheckler’s Blog

Next thing I’ve seen that really bugged me  in the last few days was this pitiful article on the front page of the Daily Mail :England’s poor cancer detection and bad diet mean Slovenian women live longer which reports on the publication on the Government’s Health Profile of England 2009

This is just so absolutely typical of the Mail’s – “everything is terrible, and it’s all the fault of  Labour/David Cameron/Foreigners/Communists/Women/Fat people/Insert-your-own-scapegoat-here” approach to journalism.

One barely needs to read beyond the headline to sense the antipathy towards women, towards Eastern europeans, towards the National Health service, and towards the Government.

Reading on, it gets worse –

First we’re told “Health Care is so poor” – and yet this paper supposedly supports the Conservative party, whose support for the NHS is far from certain, and who definitely want to cut radically funding to public services.

It’s even worse than Slovenia – Slovenia ? Why Slovenia ? Could it be that it’s because we have some Eastern Europeans in the country at the moment, and it’s way of belittling them ? (Poland are noticeably further down the list than both Slovenia and England, but where would be the fun in saying that British women live longer than Polish women ?)

We’re given a picture of a fat woman, always the butt of so many jokes, tucking into what looks like a chicken take away. Doubtless we’re expected to believe she’ll wash it down with half a bottle of vodka, before dying of liver disease. Not that journalists ever have dodgy diets or drink alcohol.

Though the Mail picks up on the report’s concerns about alcohol related sickness and death, the claim that “deaths from chronic liver disease among women” are “driven by the rise in binge drinking” – are not at all borne out by the report – which cautions,

The method for calculating units of alcohol from drinks consumed has been revised since previous editions of the Health Profile of England. These revisions have been made to more accurately reflect the strength of some alcoholic drinks, and the way that these can be consumed. This makes comparisons over time between levels of alcohol consumption or binge drinking difficult.

but does suggest that

The proportion of pupils (aged 11-15) who had ‘drunk alcohol in the last week’ has continued to decrease since 2001.

The Mail’s version of the report though doesn’t bother with the good news, and carries on to make such utterly daft statements as :

“there was better news for English men – their life expectancy of 77 years and eight months is among the best in Europe, behind only Sweden, Italy, Cyprus and France”

Of course that won’t be much consolation for their poor old fat alcoholic unmarried female partners, as they face the final 5 years or so of their life without their already deceased men friends – still, could have been worse – they could have had their teenage pregnancies to a Slovenian

As a matter of fact the report itself  makes very interesting reading. It does draw attention to some of the biggest threats to the health of our population, but it also points out some of the major improvements that have occurred – such as for instance :

  • life expectancy at its highest rate ever – with male life expectancy amongst the highest in Europe
  • sustained reductions in infant mortality rates
  • declining mortality rates in targeted causes – cancer, circulatory problems, and suicides
  • reductions in the numbers of people smoking
  • improvements in the quality of housing stock

All of this data kept according to international comparators, in the public domain, and very open about the problems as well as the triumphs.

So why not do it some justice Daily Mail ? You have good reporters, intelligent people who can write intelligent articles that are accessible to a wide audience. Instead, again, you decide stir up resentment, disappointment, disillusionment, and anger – based on what ? Based on a biased and partial reporting of a very thorough report.

I just wish the Daily Mail would wake up to its influence and take some responsibility for its actions.

April 2, 2010 Posted by | blogs, news, politics, women | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not on display ?

[picapp src=”4/9/e/b/A_cigarette_packet_c9be.jpg?adImageId=5083635&imageId=5166246″ width=”413″ height=”413″ /]

UPDATE : Many thanks to Will Straw at Left Foot Forward for featuring this issue, and linking back. Shopkeeper’s Labour “boycott” up in flames

Received an alert via Twitter early this morning from BBCpolitics : Newsagents  threaten to boycott the Labour Party at the next general election if legislation bans them fro… ( the 3 dots are theirs – Twitter does that sometimes !)

Looking at the website that the link points to, this is about the proposed debate in parliament on Monday regarding cigarette advertising – which also covers cigarette vending machines by the way which are apparently a key source of cigarettes for under age smokers (not sure how they get into pubs if can’t buy cigarettes mind, but I digress)

There isn’t actually a mention of a boycott though  – or a firm source for the story other than “a spokesman” for the The National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) who says that should legislation ban the open display of cigarettes “it will be very bad news for Gordon Brown”

One can understand the concern of people who feel that legislation may threaten their trade, and the statement on NFRN’s website NFRN Online sets out their case reasonably eloquently. Similarly their advert in The Times on Friday campaigns in a direct way urging MP’s to vote against proposed legislation.

Nowhere do they mention ‘boycotting’ the Labour Party though. Not at all.

What exactly does ‘boycotting’ a political party mean anyway ?

If it means not voting for them then that’s their choice. Does it mean not selling papers that support Labour ? Who knows. They aren’t threatening it though so lets not waste our time worrying – unless of course they change their mind on “The Politics Show” later this morning – because this “news” story isn’t really a news story at all – it’s a trail for a BBC TV show.

October 11, 2009 Posted by | politics, twitter | , , , | Leave a comment

Are you or have you ever been on Prescription Pain Killers ?

This morning, my memories of  my experiences in recruiting staff myself prompted me to blogg about the legalities of actually demanding a would be employee to demonstrate that they are not an illegal immigrant. This in relation to Baroness Scotland’s recent faux pas ( Baroness Scotland – Did she look at the passport ?, and why it doesn’t matter ! )

It took only a matter of minutes for another aspect of the same recruitment experiences to be jogged into my memory by a blog which provided me with another insight that the ace journalists didn’t seem to have grasped. In this case it was Adam Boulton blogging (The Pill Question on his SkyNews blog) about Andrew Marr’s questions on his BBC Show on Sunday to the Prime Minister Gordon Brown (The Andrew Marr Show) asking him whether he takes prescription pain killers.

Adam makes quite a song dance about this clearly trying to claim the moral and journalistic high ground over Andrew Marr, but finally deciding that, yes – it was OK to ask this question because it is in the natural interest to find out if the Prime Minister is suffering from a health problem. He says :-

“My own view is that the physical and mental health of the national leader are legitimate areas of inquiry.

The American President publishes the results of his medical examinations and I don’t see why the British Prime Minister shouldn’t. We should know if there is a problem which is specifically affecting the way he or she does his job.”

Can’t quite see the moral high ground myself there Mr Boulton.

Before I get to why I disagree with him, I’d like to point out that the question wasn’t really about health – he wasn’t actually asked about his eye-sight, although Marr talked about it, and that’s also what the PM talked about – he was just asked about medication.

This was straight out of the top drawer of  “Have you stopped beating your wife bishop ?” questioning. He might as well have been asked “Do you still do the odd couple of lines of coke Gordy ?” or “Is your erectile disfunction problem still as bad as it used to be ?”. Questions which are impossible to answer without generating a negative headline, and all just like Andrew Marr’s question, thrown apropos of nothing in particular (other than smear campaigns on right wing websites).

It was interesting in fact how within minutes of this interview it was being reported via Twitter that he’d been asked not about pain killers but about anti-depressants. Compounded by the now re-edited piece  Should Marr Have Asked THAT Question? – on Ian Dale’s blog. Which seemed to draw on the long running and apparently totally fictitious rumour on several right wing blogs that the Prime Minister is suffering from depression and god knows what other mental illnesses.

How convenient for them to make this error (and whether Iain Dale removed the reference or not, his good friend Guido Fawkes clearly didn’t worry about the smear on the “Prime Mentalist”).

Anyway – how does my experience recruiting staff in schools relate to this issue ? Well clearly sometimes people apply for jobs with illnesses or other medical conditions which make it very difficult to actually do the job in practice. Which is why on recruiting we place a health questionnaire in with the application forms.

Thing is though, I never see those forms – they are placed in a sealed envelope and sent directly to our Occupational Health advisers (if the candidate is appointed). They read the form, they sometimes talk to the person, they some times ask them to go for a medical, rarely they seek permission to speak with their doctor.

After all this they send me a letter which says simply “This person is fit for employment” – or “This person is not fit for employment” or “This person is fit for employment subject to the following guidance …”

If health problems crop up at a later date I can ask about them, but the employee does not have to tell me. I can refer to Occupational Health and they can write to doctors (having gained written permission from the employee) to ask for further information about health problems.

The bottom line is – Yes – health is important to a persons ability to do the job, but unless I have advice that I need to make adjustments due to a persons health, or that they are unfit to do the job, then the patient’s (employee’s) health – including treatment and medication is entirely confidential.

and I really can’t see why that should be any different for a teacher, a classroom assistant, or any other person – including the Prime Minister

So in my book that goes for Adam Boulton, and Andrew Marr as well :

Gordon Brown’s prescriptions from his doctor are confidential.

That means that they are none of your business !

September 28, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daniel Hannan’s outpourings on the NHS – Will Cameron slap him down ?

Anyone in the UK political Twitter’n’blogland can hardly have missed today’s #WeLoveTheNhs trend – prompted by Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan’s latest broadcasts on US Television pouring scorn again on the “60 year mistake” which he believes the NHS to be.

Lots of people will be dissecting this on their own blogs – one of the best and quickest off the mark was Grace Fletcher-Hackwood Our doctors and nurses: an electoral bloc, says Hannan , and possibly the best known is John Prescott on his GoFourth site “Progressive, Don’t make me laugh !”

So I won’t go over that ground again – save to say that #ILoveTheNHS !

What will be the longer term political implications of this episode though ?

Today clearly it demonstrates the very different & extreme agenda that right wing Conservatives can adopt. I think the less politically attuned may well be shocked. They may well also miss it though, and by the time they pick up tomorrow’s Mails and Expresses it will all have spun in a slightly different direction.

We’ll inevitably be treated tomorrow to the woes of people with horrendous stories about their experiences with the NHS – then we’ll get a few days of the traditional Labour/Tory exchanges on health. This is just midfield tussle though – no knockout blows (if I’m not mixing my sporting metaphors too much). This is just going over old ground.

That would change though if Daniel Hannan decided to weigh in again – because he clearly believes what he says. He wants to get rid of the NHS.

The British public though – and I think I can confidently say this – do not. They may moan about it, complain about it, wish it were better – but do they want to get rid of our National Health Service ? Absolutely not !

David Cameron knows that. The core of the Conservative leadership know that. So sometime over the next few days we may well get a feel for what kind of leader David Cameron really is.

In the run up to an election he won’t want particularly to go round “disciplining” dissident voices, and risking division in the party. On the other hand unless he slaps down the likes of Hannan, he’ll be increasingly vulnerable to accusations that the Conservatives are a bunch of right wing extremists – a view that he’s trying hard to dispel.

Daniel Hannan has his supporters amongst the Tories – but it’s by no means universal. I would say that he and his “Plan” tendency are as dangerous to the Conservatives as Derek Hatton and Militant were to Labour.

In some ways I hope that David Cameron bottles this one – because Hannan won’t, he’ll come back again and again. I don’t want the Tories elected and I don’t believe the British public would elect a party that promises to dismantle the National Health Service – but I do think they’d vote for a party led by a man who did what he should do and withdrew the whip from Daniel Hannan.

Which is better for  Labour ? Which is better for the country ? I’m still not sure !

Update : I’m sort of grateful to the author of this blog who has placed this entire article on his/her own blog.   It would have been nice to mention it to me – I’d have had no objections. Still at least he placed a link back

Latest Update (9:30 Thursday 13th August)

It would appear that David Cameron has responded to this little episode with a blog of his own We are proud of the NHS saying how proud he is of the NHS – he makes no mention of Hannan however, nor does he discuss any irony in linking directly to Twitter and sayinglook at all the support “, and how wonderful it is that there are so many supporting messages – So perhaps too many twits don’t make a twat eh  Mr Cameron ? He did however refrain from abusive language this time so he is obviously taking heed of my blog ! I think it’s clever to swear ! (well David Cameron does anyway) (July 31st 2009)

Doesn’t appear to be publishing my comments on his blog though last time I looked. UPDATE !! : 23:55 Yes he is – and lots of others – blimey he’s got a can of worms to deal with there !

August 12, 2009 Posted by | blogs, politics, twitter | , , , , | 2 Comments


%d bloggers like this: