Doctor reports big demand for flu jab
DOCTOR Mairead Kelly's surgery has certainly been a busy place since the beginning of the year - and fear of swine flu is the principal reason for the crowded waiting room.
' There is most definitely an increase in trade. The surgery is a very busy place. It is like there has been a second wave since we returned full pelt in the last two weeks,' says the Enniscorthy-based medic after yet another session of overtime at her base in Mill Park Road. What she calls 'flu-like symptoms' are responsible for the rush. So she examines plenty of patients with coughs, the shivers, high temperature and the like.
' Whether they have swine flu or not is another matter,' says Mairead who stresses that such problems are always more common at this time of year anyway. 'I can make an educated guess if it swine flu but I cannot say for certain, unless I send material for testing to the lab.'
Unless there is good reason to do so, then she has no intention of troubling the laboratory at all. If every G.P. in the country sent a dozen swabs a day, then scientists would be inundated - and it would produce very little benefit. For most patients, the best advice is the same as it would be for any influenza - simply stay at home and stay warm. The publicity around swine flu certainly seems to have had the effect of increasing concern among those with underlying medical conditions which leave them vulnerable. Pregnant women feel vulnerable and many mothers are worried about their children. They all end up in the waiting room at Mill Park Road.
Dr. Kelly is intrigued to note that the over 65's do not appear to be as affected by the epidemic of sniffles and coughs as the rest of the population. One reason for this could be that so many of them had the jab last year and the protection is still holding good. The second reason is that the disease is less likely to affect their age group for some other reason.
' The over 65's do not seem to be affected as much,' she confirms. Meanwhile, the demand from the patients on her books for vaccine has been very brisk as the public responds to all the coverage of the swine flu threat. The condition is clearly seen as a very real threat by the general public.