Real Time Twitter In Medicine: USA, Australia, UK

The immediacy and power of Twitter are amazing. Not just for revolutions, natural disasters, major crimes, assistance in need. Not just to help the little guy when he gets done by incompetent bureaucracy. But in medicine. At every level.

Here I was this morning, eating breakfast near the southernmost tip of the Australian mainland, as close to Tasmania as you can be without getting your feet wet. I retweeted a link about whooping cough, reminding people to keep up these vaccinations at any age. Yes, grandparents too, because they cuddle their grandkids.

A reply comes swinging in from Dr Julie Carter @nyred , a Brit living in New York. She can get shots in the USA, but what about the UK, she asks. I was hard up being accurate, so I brought in Dr Julie Leask @JulieLeask , a Senior Lecturer at Sydney Medical School, specialising in vaccination. She provides some info and calls in Dr Peter English @petermbenglish from the UK, editor of the Journal Vaccines in Practice. Peter inputs a wealth of data, and responds to my further direct questions.

When done, Dr Karen Price @brookmanknight chips in. She is Chair of the Women in General Practice Committee of the RACGP in Victoria Australia. She followed the conversation, presumably while eating her breakfast as well, and made some nice noises about the interesting dialogue.

We all learnt something. We couldn’t be further away on this planet. And, most importantly, my coffee didn’t get cold.

Summary – in the UK, you will not get booster pertussis shots as an adult through the NHS unless you have never had a primary course, or, in exceptional circumstances, as part of a pertussis outbreak control. You can get non-NHS-funded booster injections from a private non-NHS doctor.

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