The meeting with the client involved a brief chat regarding a document published by the Welsh Government, with NHS Wales and Public Health Wales, that evaluated the resilience of health and care services in Wales concerning the Winter months between 2016/17. This document would help in finding a way to improve healthcare services in Wales in years to come. Specifically, the document allowed officials, staff and public to look at various statistics and important cases that were deemed a danger to the public in order to grasp a sense of what actions needed to be taken in order for the NHS to work more efficiently and effectively.
In chapter 10. Influenza and Infection Control starting on page 59 of the document, the government looked more specifically at what influenza was, what effect it has on the public, and ways in which the virus can be prevented from spreading.
Influenza, commonly known as flu, affects the respiratory system (lungs and airways). It is the result of an infection that is caused by an influenza virus of either two types that affect humans. These are known as influenza A and influenza B, however, there are a range of differing sub-types within group A and B. This is because of a continual genetic change where the virus evolves and adapts to different conditions or attacks on the virus; as any other virus would. Symptoms of flu include:
- body aches
- sore throat
The virus spreads in October and April, being spread easily from person to person. Flu has a significant impact on the building pressures on the NHS between December and March. Because of the genetic change a virus can take, people who have been immune to the virus in previous years can not be guaranteed to encounter it in the future. Therefore a new vaccine has to be developed each year to protect those vaccinated from viruses likely to be circulated in the following critical months of obtaining the flu. Those of the public who are most vulnerable to getting the flu include children between the ages of two and seven years of age, anyone over the age of 65, pregnant women, those under the age of 65 who would be likely to develop complications from the results of contracting the flu virus, and also health and social care workers who care for those that are vulnerable. The vaccination is offered free to the vulnerable.
I continued conducting research into the flu and looked on the official NHS website. The webpage provided more information in regards to giving information on what to do in the situation of dealing with the flu. This included more detail into symptoms of the flu, how to treat the flu yourself, how a pharmacist could help, when you should seek medical help and important information about how antibiotics won’t be able to help with the flu, how to avoid spreading the flu, and how to prevent it. Highlights of the webpage were boxes which featured important phone numbers, who is most at risk of developing complications, and when someone should call 999. The NHS mostly encouraged people to call 111 if they couldn’t seek access to speaking to their GP. The client at the first meeting had also mentioned that people who are suffering from the flu have seen the need to visit A&E instead of seeking help elsewhere. What I believe would be necessary is including information about the flu as well as encouraging people to get a vaccine to protect themselves from the virus, as to what was mentioned in the briefing.
I wanted to take a quick look at what the flu virus looked like under the microscope. This would give a possibility of me developing some interesting outcomes with regards to how I would use shapes, colours, and images. I referred to the CNN Website where a gallery of eight images were shown along with captions underneath.
Antibiotic resistance was an important topic brought up by our client in our first meeting. I visited a webpage where a short article was written, titled ‘Why Don’t Antibiotics Kill Viruses?‘ The article generalised how your body would become resistant to an antibiotic while doing nothing to improve symptoms of a viral infection. It explained this through a number of different reasons as to why viruses are resistant to antibiotics.
Antivirals would sometimes be prescribed to shorten the lifespan of the virus to help prevent further complications from arising, however it would needed to have been taken within the first 24-48 hours of the infection. An antibiotic could be prescribed later when the virus has encouraged a bacterial infection to grow, however it would not kill the virus. This is because viruses are structurally different from bacteria. Instead, viruses adapt and replicate to the conditions of a human cell. This is where vaccines would be effective because they contain antiviral ingredients. A vaccine works by stimulating the immune system so that cells can recognise and produce antibodies to fight off a future attack from a virus which could cause disease.
Another point that also came up in the meeting was sharing antibiotics with different people for when they contract a bacterial infection. Unfortunately not all bacterial infection will be killed by any antibiotic. A specific antibiotic would be prescribed to someone with a certain infection. The same article gave an example:
For example, amoxicillin (a penicillin-type drug) can be used to treat a strep throat but will not work for some common pneumonias or bladder infections. This is one reason why it is very important not to share your antibiotics with someone else. While you may mean well, the bacteria causing their infection may not be susceptible to your prescribed antibiotic. In turn, those bacteria may not die, and the infection can worsen. Plus, the person you share your antibiotic with may unnecessarily experience side effects from your drug. (https://www.drugs.com/article/antibiotics-and-viruses.html)
Further mentioned was the problem of the bacteria learning to ‘fight off’ the antibiotic by developing protective walls that can inactivate the antibiotic. Therefore, sharing antibiotics you have been prescribed is dangerous to the giver and receiver because the bacteria will fight off the antibiotic before you finish the course you will have been prescribed.
In more specific relevance to the brief, I briefly looked at controversy created by the media that has discouraged people to be willing to get a vaccination to protect them the flu. In an article written in the USA, the author has researched and discussed how many people have died from the flu every year since 2010, how controversy has piled up around vaccinations, and why this controversy still exists. Two factors were mentioned that contributed to vaccine hesitancy. They mentioned how a study from 2013 had found that people who are hesitant to getting the vaccine tend to rely on the internet as a source of information, even though the internet is filled with misinformation presented by the media and theorists. The second largest factor that was mentioned was a study that had investigated how the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine was a cause of autism in children that was written in 1998 by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who has since been discredited by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) for fraudulent research. Due to the uproar of media on this case, despite the research being proved fraudulent, vaccinations dropped both in the US and the UK. Vaccination rates dropped so significantly in the UK that in some areas only 60% of children were being vaccinated, according to the BBC.
In an editorial published by the Edward Jenner Society, I saw a table which presented the types of fears that trigger vaccine hesitancy by different causes. What I liked about the content provided by this editorial was that it had offered solutions to how people can be encouraged to get a vaccine by persuasion, which would be very useful for the remainder of this project and future persuasion projects to come.
A few other articles that had caught my attention that didn’t have much reference to my research for this project are listed below.