It was with some trepidation that I took my eldest to see the doctor this evening. He came home from school complaining of a temperature, muscle pains and nausea. Oops...
I called the doctor and got an appointment because of the possibility it might be the dreaded Grippe A (H1N1, swine flu). Kids have been falling like flies at his school - the whole of troisième has been closed, although I'm not sure how many of them are confirmed cases of swine flu.
In the meantime, the French are proving very wary about getting themselves vaccinated. Those most at risk have been sent vouchers, but many of those not in the medical professions simply don't trust the vaccine. The vaccination centres are installed in sports halls and are able to take up to 1000 people, but are pretty empty. It doesn't help, of course, that you can't just go to see your doctor, but that you have to get to a particular place which may not be convenient to you.
Now everyone is criticising Roselyne Bachelot, Health Minister for her handling of the vaccination campaign and holding her responsible for the modest uptake on being vaccinated. One of the problems is that there is a video doing the rounds which accuses the laboratory Baxter of accidentally contaminating a test vaccine with live virus. Mme Bachelot had ordered a first round of vaccines from Baxter but refused to give the name of the lab when asked thus inciting deep suspicion in the population.
So the situation now is that there are dozens of centres around the country standing almost idle while those who could be vaccinated are choosing not to be, but the vaccines in multi-doses are not being used on anyone else either. Once opened, they have to be used within 24hrs or thrown out. The fear is that there'll be chaos later when those on the priority list who haven't been vaccinated and whose vouchers have expired (after 10 days) will panic when more people catch swine flu and everyone is rushing to get themselves jabbed.
When will politicians ever learn that people are not sheep, that the internet is a huge resource for outing lies and dodgy stuff, and that they can't fob off any old piece of crap onto a population that takes its health very seriously. One whiff of opaque spin and that's it, everyone becomes consumed with paranoia. They refuse to heed advice they consider suspect and a huge crisis management campaign has to be added to the original one. You can't put the tele on for the news without seeing someone being jabbed and smiling happily about it.
After all that, my son doesn't have swine flu (apparently - we'll see... paranoia paranoia). It's just a bog-standard seasonal one resulting in a day off school in bed tomorrow and no sport for 6 days. Phew (pending review of situation in a couple of days)!