Vaccinating the entire population

Health chiefs are preparing to vaccinate the entire population against swine flu.


Vaccinating people has a risk all of its own: some people do react and do die.

There\’s also some number of people who actually get \’flu from the vaccine. No, not very many but it isn\’t entirely unknown.

So, there needs to be offset against the reduction in deaths that would be caused by an epidemic svoided those deaths that occure in avoiding the epidemic.

Now this is of course a technical decision, one that needs to be taken by the wonks who know the relevant rates and incidences, not something for a lone blogger to decide upon.

The thing is through, given the quality of decision made by such wonks in the recent past, who has confidence that they\’ll make the right one?

14 thoughts on “Vaccinating the entire population”

  1. This is a relatively straightforward problem in linear programming. The thing is, political decisions these days are only informed by science to the extent that the answer bolsters the pre-existing political consensus. If they get the ‘right’ answer from the boffins, then chocks away! Otherwise, silence (and they do what they were going to do anyway).

  2. “There’s also some number of people who actually get ‘flu from the vaccine. No, not very many but it isn’t entirely unknown.”

    Are you sure about this? I thought the vaccine doesn’t include any of the live virus.

  3. I agree with David. If the vaccine is available, even if the statistics imply that it would be better not to administer it, political calculations will likely come to the fore.

    Politicians always want to be seen to be “doing something” and their opponents criticise them for “not doing something”.

    Look at how Brown kept banging on about the Tories being the “do nothing” party on the economic crisis, even though it is far from clear that the action taken by him has done much good (but will definitely cost us down the line).

  4. David, it’s called “policy based evidence”. It’s been a cornerstone of New Labour in government. Why else would they fund their fake charities?

  5. Well, yes, KT, but as with so much concerning this most mendacious of governments it does not suffer by repeating.

  6. “Look at how Brown kept banging on about the Tories being the “do nothing” party on the economic crisis”

    Yes, because opposition MPs should “do something” despite not having the levers of government.

    Brown is the worst Prime Minister since the war (the Crimean). The silver lining to the great brown cloud is that at least he will take the Labour Party into the abyss with him..

  7. Well, D’uh!! All they’ve said is that everyine can get the vaccine, when its ready, if they want to. How many people here are seriously going to go to their GP’s and get this vaccine, once it becomes available? How many of your friends will do it? Exactly! So, of course, all this talk is simply spin. You know it, they know it, everyone knows it. So why get your knickers in a twist? Unless, of course, you like the feeling of superiority that comes from apparently knowing something that no one else does. Pull yourselves together, peeps.

  8. Didn’t they rush through a vaccine in the 70s when a soldier died of swine flu and didn’t the vaccine kill a few.
    And there is the possibility of infectious polyneuritis as well. I think.
    All for a low lethal ailment.

  9. Politicians, especially lefties, think higher maths end with falsified expense reports. Statistics and actuarial mathematics they believe to be akin to astrology and Tarot cards. The concept of upside downside analysis based on “arithmetic” much less actuarial science is extra galactic.

    Hence lunatic schemes like this, the BBC and the NHS.

  10. @12 the ‘especially lefties’ part is rubbish. On the other side of the fence, see drugs policy and prison policy. Agreed more generally though, evidence-based policymaking would be good.

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