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Should I get vaccinated against swine flu?

01 December 2009 / 17:12:21  GRReporter
2846 reads

Kremena Koutsoukou

“The third phase of the swine flu vaccination is starting from today. All citizen, who would like to do so, can get vaccinated after showing an ID and a health book.” This information is stuck in my head. The opinions are different and I am still wondering whether I should get vaccinated or not.

I called 1135 – national hot line, where you can get informed about different health centers, which offer the vaccine. I was waiting patiently for someone to pick up the phone. But then the connection fails. I call again. No answer. Last try and if no one picks up I will go to the local health center IKA. Finally I hear the operator. I ask him where I can get vaccinated in Marousi. He answers that technically I can do it in any public hospital and in some health centers of the Insurance Fund. It comes out that IKA – Marousi is not in the list of health centers, which put the vaccine. Though the operator explains that such procedure can be done, because even though some hospitals have not officially announced that they put the vaccine, they still do it according to the official campaign. Except in IKA – Marousi I found out that I can go to Sismanoglio hospital but I have to have an appointment beforehand. Why an appointment? Because this is how some hospitals work, answers the operator.

I decided to go to IKA. I find it more practical to go there and not to have an appointment first. On my way there I decided to ask some of my friends what they are thinking of doing. I remembered my neighbors – exceptionally nice elderly couple – Zavos family. Mr. Dinos Zavos is a retired ship captain. I asked him whether he will get vaccinated. “Of course,” says he “I already did it.” He explains his decision by dropping a bit of humor: “If I get vaccinated and Argyro (his wife) does not, then at least one of us will survive. I’m not worried about the vaccine. Actually the one they put me was one of those they rejected in Canada – by GlaxoSmithCline.” After that he told me how in 1957 when he was 24 years old he caught the “Asian flu”. He got infected in an Italian hospital, in which he was hospitalized for other reasons. He was treated for about 10 days and after that cured. “I still might have some antibodies left from back then, the symptoms are the same.” Mrs. Argyro on the other hand is wondering. Ever since her husband advised her to get vaccinated she cannot relax. Finally we arranged that after I come back from IKA I will call her and tell her whether there are a lot of people waiting in line.

I also by the local food store. I asked the owner – Tassos, who is 40 years old. He is certain. He will not get vaccinated. Because he is healthy, does not have any health problems, which should make him worry. Also in the store there is an older lady, about 70, who overhears our conversation and joins the “discussion”. She will not get vaccinated as well. This is what her personal doctor told her. She has palpitations but it is not dangerous for her even if she is infected with the new flu.

So I go to IKA. Probably a bit more confused. I ask at the information desk and they tell me there is another entrance for those vaccinations. I find this to be correct and I find my way to the right entrance. Next to me an older man is also interested about the immunization. We get to the right entrance and we read a sign, which says “Flu department”. We look at each other and we wonder what this thing is about. I see people wearing masks. After a while I understand and cannot believe, that this department is visited by people, who are getting tested for swine flu, who have swine flu and the ones like us who want to get vaccinated. At least the doctor cabinets are different – on the left there are the vaccinations and on the right – the infected people. Everybody though, is waiting in a common waiting room. I turn back and I see that the older man had already turned and head back home. So I decide to leave too.

I’m wondering what to tell Mrs. Argyro, who anyway was feeling a bit reserved towards the vaccination. I pass through the food store where Tassos offers me an antiseptic hand gel and with a smile on his face “reminds” me of the measures, which we all take in the name of prevention.  

Tags: Swine flu H1N1 virus vaccinations
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