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‘Work in progress’ workshop: Pandemic Influenza: People, Policy, Science Living ‘post-pandemic’ and responding to influenza Dr Mark Davis School of Political.

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Presentation on theme: "‘Work in progress’ workshop: Pandemic Influenza: People, Policy, Science Living ‘post-pandemic’ and responding to influenza Dr Mark Davis School of Political."— Presentation transcript:

1 ‘Work in progress’ workshop: Pandemic Influenza: People, Policy, Science Living ‘post-pandemic’ and responding to influenza Dr Mark Davis School of Political and Social Inquiry 2011 TASA Conference, Wednesday 30 November

2 Overview H1N1 outbreak in 2009/10 WHO declared world ‘post-pandemic’ on 10 August, 2010 Our project: systematic account of social responses to pandemic influenza

3 The project and sample Interviews with nearly 40 men and women in Melbourne and Sydney (ongoing) Purposive criteria: –Women pregnant or with small children in 2009 – older people –Immuno-compromised people –‘healthy’ people

4 Responding to pandemic influenza I was just very careful about what we did and where we went. But it’s a bit like, many, many years ago they said that the communists were coming. Well we’re still waiting. So I think for people to be aware of the severity of these things is important. But I think there’s very little the general public can do apart from taking care of themselves and using any sort of technique that is a barrier. I really don’t know that there's anything you can do. To be aware, as I say, and don’t travel overseas if you don’t have to, or don’t get in a confined space like a plane… Last year I went on an excursion with a community group and the guy behind me had the most awful cough and cold. He was taking this pill and that pill. And he said, “Oh have you got any water? I need to take my antibiotics.” I said, “Well you’re not getting my water bottle! I’ll get a cup but you’re not having my bottle.” Well two weeks later I had it. (Roslyn, 61-70 years, Melbourne)

5 Cultivating immunity Oh well we looked after ourselves, you know. We took our preparations that we usually take if we feel we are exposed to something. Like our immune-boosting things. We take Echinacea and vitamin C powder. We usually take that if we’ve got the slightest signs. We get onto that straight away and take it for two or three days. And nine out of ten times we stop everything. But because this was so prevalent in the community we decided that we’d take the Echinacea daily. (Linda, 60-71 years, Melbourne)

6 Using vaccines I was really scared when he’d get sick. And when I saw other kids with runny noses and things I’d be really indignant … at the same time, you know, I’d talk to nurses and doctors and educated myself a bit about it. And it seemed to me that it was a really good thing for them to be exposed to this stuff … I still could see the potential long-term benefits of being exposed to these things earlier in building up his immune system. So I was aware of that. I got him vaccinated in his first year of life and that was before the swine flu epidemic. But when the swine flu epidemic hit, I didn’t get him vaccinated mostly because he was too sick to actually get it done. And then, we didn’t have access to any kind of influenza vaccine that would protect against that strain … But it was really frightening because we were in the inner city so we were right near Clifton Hill where the first local case hit. (Jan, 31 – 40 years, Melbourne)

7 The best protection The last time I got the flu was two years ago and I ended up in hospital because of it. I was having night sweats. I was quite, quite ill, really. And the hospital kept saying, “It’s a virus. We need to let it run its course” (Carrie, 21-30 years, Sydney) My GP advised me... in spite of all of these stories about pregnant women in their third trimester getting swine flu and being in like threatening, critical situations, she felt that the risk associated with a new vaccination would outweigh the potential benefit … And she said to me, “The best thing you could hope for is that XXX will get it because it’s the best protection he can have against it.” And that surprised me because she’s been a strong advocate in the past. Since I’d had that first round of flu, she’d been quite sort of strong about saying, “You need to get a flu vac year by year.” (Jan, 31 – 40 years, Melbourne)

8 Immunity and community CM: Do you think you’re always constantly aware of any emerging threats out there? Carrie: Not on a wide scale but in my daily life I certainly am. I make it an issue. ‘Cause I have a chronic cough and I make an issue that when I deal with somebody from the public and I have a coughing fit, I just let them know, “Oh don’t worry; it’s not contagious – it’s chronic”. And I know when I sit on public transport, I hear that hacking cough at the back of the room or I deal with somebody who’s sneezing, I think, “I wish they weren’t at work today,” or, “I wish there was that overall culture not to spread your germs”. And I guess I see that because when I cough, people give me a dirty look especially if I’m on public transport and I’ve got a bad coughing fit, you get a few looks. And I make an effort to say, “Don’t worry: it’s not contagious”. But for most people out there who are coughing it is contagious and I wish they weren’t out in public. (Carrie, 21-30 years, Sydney)

9 Framing social responses to pandemic influenza Indeterminate influenza & situated engagements Reflexive, citizenly ambivalence Immunity apparatus

10 Acknowledgements ARC Discovery Project (2011-3) Chief investigators: Mark Davis (Monash), Niamh Stephenson (UNSW), Prof. Paul Flowers (Glasgow Caledonian University) RAs: Davina Lohm, Casimir MacGregor

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