Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Swedish Swine Flu Public Service Announcement

Moving to Sweden means there will always be something that pops up that you didn’t think about. Like a global flu pandemic for example. It will get you every time. Luckily, the swine flu vaccinations began yesterday in southern Sweden. Apparently it is the largest vaccination program in Swedish history. Which I suppose makes sense because the Swedish population, as a general rule, has increased throughout history. Weird how that works.

One of those benefits of living in a country with the second highest tax burden in the world is trying to use the programs which I am funding. And I am funding health care. Of course, considering I am the picture of health what with my stationary bike riding next to men with moobs and all, I don’t use health care. In fact, in all the time I have lived here, I’ve only managed to use the Swedish health care system once. But I think I’m going to use it again.

After months of morbidly waiting for the flu to run rampant hoping that my genes are strong enough to withstand the onslaught, I’m thinking it’s probably not that big of a deal. But I love my fellow-man so am now considering getting vaccinated. Plus, I love free things. After speaking with my biologist friend and reading one newspaper article (I am easily swayed) I’ve been informed that if 50% of the population is vaccinated, it’s good. It’s not until the 70-80% rate that the vaccination really start making a difference.

The swine flu, or H1N1 so I don’t hurt any pig farmers’ feelings, is alive and well in Stockholm. But so is the vaccine. This being Sweden, the vaccine is being offered free of charge. The vaccine is being phased in. This still being Sweden, the phase-in is referred to by weeks.

We’re in Week 42 which obviously means it is time to vaccinate the at-risk group. Pregnant women for example which excludes me. This is followed by a week (Week 43) of even more pregnant women. Considering the population growth of Sweden is just over 0.15% there sure are a lot of pregnant women to vaccinate. Week 44 is the public health workers like nurses and doctors. I am still excluded. Finally, in Week 45, the general public, your standard Svensson if you will, can be vaccinated.

When I say the general public I really mean the general public. Everyone. Even non-citizens who just happen to be staying in Stockholm for a solid amount of time can be vaccinated. My understanding is that this includes everyone from refugees to students. Exchange students throughout Stockholm can thank me and my taxes by buying me a beer.

If you’re looking for a clinic near you (and by near you I mean near me as in the Stockholm area), click here for VårdGuiden’s search page. On the right click on “Vaccination svininfluensan,” that being Swedish for the swine flu vaccination. I know, I know, it’s a good thing I was here to translate that one for you. When you click on it, you should see it pop up in the “Vad?” field. Under “Vad?” is “Var?” click and find your city and you should be good to go. Or just use Google translate.

Welcome to Sweden. And my attempts at avoiding the swine flu.

For information on vaccinations in Stockholm in Swedish: När, var och varför ska jag vaccinera mig?
For information on vaccinations in Stockholm in English: Swine influenza

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  1. I assume that a regular flu will kill more people in the world. It's been such a hassle with this, which is appreciated by the medicine companies.

  2. Oh, that's a shame you're not part of any of the risk groups like me (no, I'm not pregnant), or you could have stood in line with me tomorrow :( But then, they're actually not checking whether or not you really do belong to the risk groups, so I guess in essence anyone could just rock up for a shot starting tomorrow. Hm.

    And also, on behalf of all the pig farmers (at least those with employees) I thank you for calling it H1N1!

  3. Hairy, I hope you get the swine flu.


  4. Truetrue, the flu mania started at my work. Its dead serious business, we even have hand sanitizers. I am still waiting for the compulsory masks.

  5. Swine flu mania is alive in the US as well. My 9 year-old niece was diagnosed with it yesterday. She is very sick little girl, but with no underlying medical problems. She does seem to be enjoying the extra attention. :o)

    They do not have her on any kind of medication - just letting it run its course. The doctor said that if her fingers turn blue or she starts having trouble breathing that they should get her to the hospital, otherwise it's the usual treatment of rest and plenty of fluids. I am watching to see if she sprouts a curly tail or starts digging in the yard for truffles.

  6. This is very thoughtful of you hairy! making contribution to the public health. And by the way your beer is right hear on the bar counter, don't forget to pick it.

  7. Off topic, but guess what made national news in the US? Swedish bunnies. Burning bunnies, to be precise. I guess that's one solution for keeping the population warm and cozy during the long, dark winters.

  8. why is anonymous so mean wishing flu on you?

  9. I received my swine flu vaccine yesterday. It was the nasal mist version. It was free here too. (compliments of the state of Tennessee...which incidently has no income tax which might explain the abysmal public school system...but hey FREE vaccines YAY!)

    Question for you Hairy, is there a campain of fear going on in Sweden?

    Half the people I've talked to here are too scared to get the vaccine because "not enough testing" has been done. (even though it is made EXACTLY the same way as ALWAYS...just has the new H1N1 strain added in) Not only is the media here scaring the bejeezus out of everyone about the flu but now they're doing it about the vaccine...ugh...I totally loathe the fearmongering media.

  10. Uh-oh... Hairy Swede's mamma is gonna kick Anonymous' ass.

  11. @smek – wouldnt really surprise me.

    @terander – H1N1 just sounds so much more professional.

    @anonymous – well thats just not very nice.

    I hope you get syphilis.

    @anonymous – I think masks would really put it over the top for me. Im ok with hand sanitizer but masks are where I draw the line.

    @an American Girl – just as long as she doesn’t start emitting a strong smell of bacon...

    @tod – everything I do, I do it for you. or something like that.

    @E – I saw that... bunnies are overrated anyway. Being warm is not.

    @mamma – I think because they want me to get the flu, get over it, and then develop immunity thereby strengthening my genetic makeup and any potential offspring I may have. Obviously.

    @mama – they are doing needles here. No spray.

    And there is definitely a lot of nonsense about the fear of vaccines. Plenty of people taking the opportunity to say that vaccines are the cause of autism and all sorts of exciting things that seem to forget that vaccines are also the cause of lots of people not dying of weird diseases.

    @An American Girl – she could do it too. She runs marathons.