With a cheep-cheep here, an oink-oink there, and a total confusion everywhere
For reasons we needn't go into, Tyler is what the NHS describes as immunocompromised. No, it's not what you think, but it does mean he received a call today from Sharon at his GP group practice.
Sharon informed Tyler he was in an at-risk group, and therefore needed to come in for the Swine Flu jab.
"Wha!" said Tyler. "The new experimental quatermass vaccine... but, but... is it safe?"
"Oh, yes," said Sharon, "it's under the government vaccination programme. It's all been tested and it's perfectly fine. And actually I see you haven't had the normal seasonal flu jab - we'd better do that at the same time."
So what to do?
Clearly, you'd be mad to say yes just because the government wants you to.
For one thing they're a bunch of serial incompetents, and for another, they are proven liars.
Why would they lie about the safety of swine flu vaccine? Well, because this is one of those public health issues: the more people they can get vaccinated, the less likely it is that we'll have an epidemic. And as we've blogged before, when it comes to public health, governments follow traditional Stalinist principles: "one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic". In other words, they're not bothered if a few dozen Tylers go down under the needle, as long as the herd gains immunity.
This calls for an urgent consultation with Dr Google.
Now let me see... "swine flu vaccine"... yikes! Google immediately suggests "swine flu vaccine deaths" with 13.1 million results.
So... "Swine flu jab link to killer nerve disease: Leaked letter reveals concern of neurologists over 25 deaths in America... The letter from the Health Protection Agency, the official body that oversees public health... tells neurologists that they must be alert for an increase in a brain disorder called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), which could be triggered by the vaccine. GBS attacks the lining of the nerves, causing paralysis and inability to breathe, and can be fatal." (Daily Mail)
In Sweden there have been four vaccine-related deaths. Or is it six? Accounts seem to vary. And come to that, how do we know the deaths don't run into hundreds, and there's been a cover-up? The bodies could easily be stored in a cordoned-off frozen fish factory - they must have loads of them up there. Obviously they'd keep that pretty quiet, so how are we supposed to find out?
Or what about this in Time Magazine - Time Magazine! - "...the vaccine is tainted with antifreeze or Agent Orange, causes Gulf War syndrome, has killed U.S. Navy sailors... the vaccine is an "evil depopulation scheme."
Jeepers! That's it! No way is Tyler getting pumped full of Agent Orange.
Oh, wait. Time goes on to say "these claims are nearly pure bunk", and that "the crop of falsehoods about the H1N1 vaccine... are potentially... dangerous, since they encourage the credulous to avoid vaccination at all costs."
OK, so what does the NHS itself say about vaccine safety?
"The swine flu prototype vaccines have been clinically tested and shown to produce good immune system responses, and have an acceptable safety profile. The insertion of the H1N1 strain into the vaccine should not substantially affect the safety of the vaccine in the same way that annual modifications to the seasonal flu vaccine do not."
There they go again. What exactly is an "acceptable safety profile"? Acceptable to whom? Stalin's Commissar for Collectivised Health?
In a complete muck-sweat, Tyler finally turned to the one man he could trust to cut through the doublespeak - the good Dr Crippen. What should Tyler do?
Unfortunately, the Doc is himself now under heavy medication, having gone down with a nasty bout of H1NHS gravis.
Apparently he was exposed to a whole series of confusing and largely incomprehensible circulars from the Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health, believed to have been triggered by the recent outbreak of swine flu vaccination fever.
So at the Doc's suggestion, and suitably masked up, Tyler examined the latest of these circulars, the one that gave the order for Sharon to ring Tyler. Under the Stalinesque identifier of Gateway 12870, it orders NHS operatives like the Doc "to maximise the level of uptake of the vaccine amongst the priority groups". Operatives are further instructed to access further vital campaign plans at Gateways 12241 and 12781.
Unfortunately, when you actually try to access those vital further Gateways, all you get is this:
We are sorry but the page you are looking for cannot be found. It may have been removed, had its name changed or be temporarily unavailable."
Is it any wonder the Doc is a wreck. After months of trying to follow this kind of gibberish, the poor fellow's immune system is shot. Jabwise, he has no more idea what the Commissars are asking him to do than you or I. Only Sharon seems sure.
Although, now we come to think of it, what about Sharon? Is she going to have the jab herself? According to recent polls, roughly half of nurses (and GPs) are going to refuse. They obviously know something the rest of us haven't been told.
Which leaves Tyler in a quandary.
You see, although now immunocompromised, Tyler is old enough to have picked up some of the natural immunity oldies seem to have to this swine flu. For example, he got very ill in the 1957 Asian flu epidemic.
So is it worth risking a shot of Agent Orange now?
But one thing's for sure: all the guff so expensively pumped out by the Department of Health is not going to help him decide one jot.
PS What will the vaccine cost the NHS? Needless to say, the government refuses to tell us, but according to the World Health Organisation, the cost per dose is $20. So if, as the government apparently expects, three-quarters of us get the jab, it will cost $900m, or around £0.5bn.