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Some 'flu questions

Maybe it's the other threads have made me think; I'm not worried, just interested:

1. The media often mentions pneumonia as linked with swine 'flu or when talking about people developing complications. I know the normal 'flu vaccine doesn't protect against swine 'flu, but does the ordinary pneumonia vaccine protect against this complication if you were to get swine 'flu?

2. Once the vaccine programme starts, would we need both the swine 'flu and the normal 'flu vaccine?

3. We're told to use hand gels. I was looking at my bottle today and it's got claims all over it about killing 99.9% of bacteria. But swine 'flu is a virus, not a bacteria, so is there actually any point doing this or is hot water and soap better?

11 Replies

Hi ratty the pneumonia vaccine only protects you from one type of pneumonia, (pneumococcus bacteria, there are many types of pnemococus though and the vaccine dosn't cover them all ) you can still get others caused by different bacterias. Swine flu causes viral pneumonia. viruses are different to bacteria.

My consultant advised me when I saw him last to get the swine flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available, your other question I'm not to sure on.

Hope this helps



One question regarding the flu vaccine, are there two this year ?, the last i heard that they were only going to make either just a swine flu vaccine, or some sort combination one, but with reduced ability to protect against the normal virus. One for our resident GP and mod ?


1. Pneumonia in 'flu may be either primary viral - i.e. caused by the virus itself, a viral pneumonia - or secondary, caused by a bacterium ""hitching a ride"" into the already inflamed and vulnerable lung tissues. The most common bacterial hitchhiker is the Pneumococcus species, which Pneumovax protects against. However, other bacteria may also cause bacterial pneumonia. So whilst Pneumovax will offer some protection, it won't protect you against viral or other bacterial pneumonias.

2. At the moment, there are still plans to continue to vaccinate against seasonal 'flu as usual. This may change, though, so watch this space. Actually, watch the Department of Health or Health Protection Agency websites. It isn't a combination vaccine, though. And - good news - there are two companies (GSK and Baxter) producing the vaccine, and my sources tell me that Baxter are using cell-line technology as opposed to culturing in egg - so egg-allergy folk will be able to have it.

3. Alcohol hand gels are useful against viruses (effectively the alcohol causes complete cellular dehydration, effectively killing viruses and bacteria). However they do not negate the need for handwashing, and usual advice is to wash your hands after every 3-4 applications of gel.


Thanks for the answers to my questions. So, I shall continue with the hand gelling. BTW, if alcohol kills viruses, does this mean people with high alcohol intakes are less likely to catch the flu?! If so, I could be persuaded to have a drink or two (all in the name of scientific research...).

I didn't realise that the pneumovax only offered protection against one type so I guess I've learnt something even though it wasn't something I wanted to know :(

And as to flu jabs, I assume this means we'll have three jabbings to look forward to this year...


ugh even the sound of three jabs is not good ...

oh an in the next school year im due to have the hpv jabs as well , i think there is three of them to , on that note anyone had them

note to self : must get over needle phobia , :(



Hahah Ratty, no I don't think I could support oral alcohol intake on this basis - it's unlikely to kill anything your stomach acid doesn't already! Mind you, if you rubbed neat whisky on your hands it would have a similar (if perhaps not quite so potent) effect as the hand gel...


In that case I'll just drink the gel and take my chances with the 'flu... :p


It doesn't taste good...don't worry, I wasn't trying to escape from the pain of evening surgery, but I did once manage to (somehow) taste alcohol gel, and it ain't good. Stick to the whisky ;)


I like caths' suggestion to stick to the whisky. as an non-drinker I'll have to start, as it medically recommended now ;)


hand hygiene

like you say swine flu is viral, so old fashioned warm soap and water is the order of the day. Good hand hygiene. Although of course if you are not anywhere near soap and water gel helps. But soap and water is best. That comes from infection control. Swine flu is passed by droplets.

As for the whisky I can't drink that but guess cider or wine is ok.


Hi, Ratty, What I do, to take extra hygiene precaucations is use an anti-bacterial hand wash with water for general use, but for in between, I will also use a hand gel or a new product that I have discovered called ""QUASH"". It is a totally natural antibacterial hand sanitiser which contains powerful anti-bac ingredients, such as manuka honey. I have found this to be invaluable. You can buy it from Holland and Barrett, WHSmith travel stores and The Co-op Pharmacies. Hope this helps.

p.s. you get 250 sprays out of one 50ml bottle and you can use it as much as you like!



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