Friday, November 20, 2009


Swine flu immunisation programmes are a headline hogger at the moment.

But it’s the news bulletins on this issue I’d like to comment on. Please be assured this is not a flippant blog on a serious health matter.

Essentially, the information being provided is balanced and helpful - but why do TV news programme have to show close-up images of patients being injected?

For needle phobics - or wimps, if you prefer like me - it’s just too graphic. It’s why any TV medical dramas or fly-on-the-wall documentaries are a no-watch area for me. Now it’s perfectly understandable why Casualty and ER-type TV soaps or medical-themed films include people being jabbed. That’s fine, because I can elect not to watch.

But TV news catches me on the hop when there are items about drug deaths, flu jags and now swine flu. Of course, words and images need to be matched up on telly, but we know what sticking a needle in someone’s arm is like, don’t we?

If someone choked to death on a peanut, would we have to be shown a peanut? Come to think of it, one tabloid newspaper did such a thing on one occasion.

Newsreaders, when introducing some items, frequently say: “The following report contains some flash photography.” So maybe, for the benefit of faint hearts like me, there could also be a warning, when necessary: “The following report has graphic scenes of people being injected with a hypodermic syringe.”

I have a deep-seated fear of needles and I just have to live with it. It presents problems such as preventing me from being a blood donor, though curiously I used to be one in my late teens and early 20s.

It’s doubtful that news presentation of vaccinations etc will change so my eyes will have to stay shut - or I’ll just look away quickly.

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