Following the previous post about informed consent and swine flu vaccination, I thought it might be useful to have a consumer organisation’s view on the issues.
Carol Bennett, executive director of the Consumers Health Forum, is encouraging the public to discuss the pros and cons of vaccination with their health provider, rather than relying on media coverage to inform their decisions.
Here is what she has to say:
“While I do not claim to be an expert on the H1N1 vaccine and the specific risks associated with the vaccination, I think we will need to rely on individual health service providers to be aware of, and inform, consumers about the risks rather than expecting consumers to rely on a broad media discussion of potential risk factors.
I know that the risks of any vaccination vary considerably according to individual characteristics – a preschool child has different risks to a teenager who has different risks to an obese middle aged nurse or an older businessman with pre existing asthma and diabetes.
Knowing there are some risks does not inform individuals about how the risk relates to them personally.
I am not one to support health consumers being treated as mugs, but I am confident most health consumers would prefer to discuss their specific circumstances with their health service provider rather than base their risk assessment on generalised advice provided by media summaries of a Health Minister’s statement about potential side effects.
My reading of the media is that the Health Minister has been transparent in both the advice she has received (including potential risk factors) and the policy that she is adopting.”