I have a sick boy. He lay on the couch for two days with a temperature, dozing on and off, watching tv and hardly eating a morsel. Monday, day 1, he was a bit sniffly and complained every now and again of a sore throat and sore ears, only later to announce when questioned that No, they didn't hurt. His main symtoms have been tiredness and a fever.
Then on Wednesday he fell asleep under the kitchen table just after 5pm and slept through to the next morning. Thursday he slept for almost 3 hours during the day and was still tired. So today, Friday I decided that perhaps I'd better ring the doctor and get him checked out - perhaps it isn't just a virus but something more serious.
To get a doctor's appointment on the day you need to ring the nurse at the local clinic and she calls you back - which they did after almost an hour. I outlined his symtoms and she asked what it was I was wanting(!) Of course I was wanting to make an appointment for him to be checked out. She then went through a questionnaire that she had in front of her and clearly it was a "swine flu screening questionnaire". They don't want anyone in there who has shown swine flu syptoms in the last 7 days, she informed me. She would leave a message for the doctor to ring me back sometime today.
Sweden is reaching the peak for the outbreak of Swine Flu, according to an article today in The Local, and the government hope to vaccinate some 90% of the population. Ever since it was announced that the vaccine would be freely available to all I've been pondering this attempt to thwart a local pandemic and I can only put it down to the cost of VAB and sickness benefits.
VAB stands for Vård Av Barn - or child care - the type of caring for a child when they are sick, the type of caring I've been doing this week. You see the government pays me 80% of my salary up to a certain amount when I am "vabbing" or caring for my sick child. They pay it every day I am at home with my child and there is no need for a doctor's certificate unless they are off for longer than a week. Their only demand is an explanation and a signed document from school or daycare saying that the child has been away. And there is no limit to how many days a year a child can be off sick. It must cost the state an absolute fortune. Compare that to a system where the parent gets nothing for staying home with a sick child - how sick must a kid be then to justify a day without pay??
Adults also get sickness benefits. The first day off is without benefits but after that they receive 80% of their salary. A doctor's certificate is needed after a week and again there is no limit on the number of sick days a person can have off in a year, although questions do get asked after a while.
We have a long winter in this country and for six months of the year viruses run rampant and both kids and adults are regularly at home with colds, coughs and flus. If the swine flu hits Sweden like they are anticipating it will it will without doubt lead to a serious budget blow-out. Add that to the already high unemployment levels (also get 80% of salary with exceptions) and the Swedish economy is going to take quite a beating!
No wonder the Swedish government is both willing and hoping to vaccinate 90% of the population - I just wonder how anyone will get a doctor's certificate when the doctors clearly don't want anything to do with those of us who are sick!
More information available in English from Försäkringskassan http://www.forsakringskassan.se/sprak/eng
Reproduced from the Live In Sweden Blog!