October 18, 2004

So how come there's a flu vaccine shortage in the US?

Given that responsibility for the current shortage of flu vaccine has become an issue in the US presidential campaign, we thought it would be good to see how the problem developed in the first place. And while we were starting a post about how Dubya's administration had been warned about how the small number of suppliers could lead to a vaccine shortage, we received an email from the American Progress Action Fund that contained an excellent chronology of how the problem developed since 2001. Rather than steal the chronology and pretend we'd done the legwork (it was tempting, we admit), we decided to stick the most pertinent parts in this post and then refer you on to the rest:

BUSH WARNED ABOUT VACCINE SUPPLY PROBLEM IN 2001: In May 2001, the General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report concluding "a production delay or shortfall experienced by even one of the three remaining manufacturers can significantly impact overall vaccine availability." Specifically, the GAO expressed concern that, in the event of a shortage, "there is no mechanism currently in place to distribute flu vaccine to high-risk individuals before others." The report recommended robust cooperation between the federal government and the private sector to avoid future problems.

BUSH IGNORES THE PROBLEM 3+ YEARS: The GAO produced a follow-up report in September 2004, more than three years later. That report found "the number of producers remains limited, and the potential for manufacturing problems...is still present." Again, the GAO noted "there is no system in place to ensure that seniors and others at high risk for complications receive flu vaccinations first when vaccine is in short supply."

BUSH BLEW OPPORTUNITY TO SECURE ALTERNATIVE SUPPLIES: On Sept. 13, Chiron Corp. informed officials from the United States and England that there were unresolved contamination problems at its Liverpool, England, plant. The British government responded by contacting other manufacturers and securing alternative supplies. The Bush administration failed to act before all doses of the flu vaccine had been purchased.

BUSH ADMINISTRATION EXCUSE RINGS HOLLOW: FDA Acting Commissioner Lester M. Crawford suggests the United States could not find new supplies of the flu vaccine because they didn't know the Chiron plant would be closed until Oct. 5, by which time there was no more vaccine available. Crawford does not specifically deny, however, that the FDA knew there were unresolved contamination issues at the plant starting on Sept. 13.

The Progress Report has more on the flu vaccine shortage if you go here.

Of course, this chronology doesn't deal with how the increasing concentration in the pharmaceutical industry has helped reduce the number of vaccine suppliers. And how the profits-above-all orientation that's omnipresent among large corporations has led most drug-makers to abandon production of, for example, vaccines on which there is a very small profit margin.

Then, of course, the vaccine shortage might not be a problem at all.

Yeah. Right.

Posted by Magpie at October 18, 2004 09:20 AM | Health/Medicine/Health Care | Technorati links |

The flu vaccine shortage is all the fault of the evil and vile Bu$Hitler. Think I'm kidding? Consider this:

Flu has its biggest impact on children and the elderly.

The elderly, the last group that remembers the halcyon days of the FDR era, is one demographic that can be counted on to vote Democrat almost all the time.

When is flu season? Strangely enough, it comes around every fall, right around election time.

What could have the biggest impact on this year's election? Get out the vote drives.

So what happens when the elderly is bedridden with the flu? That's right, undervote and disenfranchisement. It's worse than Florida 2000 because this time it's national and this time the life and health of our greatest resource, the wisdom of our elders is at stake.

And what about the children?

As usual, the dastardly policies of Shrub--who so callously claims he will "leave no child behind"--enrich the coffers of the repugniKKKans on the backs of our youth. So much for the party of compassion. They are the KKKompassionate KKKonservatives alright.

Posted by: Vishnu Troll Daddy Earth Goddess at October 18, 2004 10:55 AM

Erm, either that's satirically overwrought, or you left your tinfoil hat in the microwave too long. With this administration, incompetence and disinterest are the most likely explanation.

Posted by: natasha at October 18, 2004 12:13 PM

Another example of ignorance: "Earth Goddess". Wow, you are a great example of a 'Kerry-loving-nut-job' that thinks you have all the info about everything and everyone else is an idiot. I do not claim to be a genious or try to be witty with making up my own new words, but I don't think comparing the KKK & Hitler to Bush makes any sense. Do I really need to go into detail with this? It is my understanding that the Clintons wanted to go outside the US for the supplies due to expense. Could be wrong but I don't blame them either. I hope that who ever is in office will do the best they can for us. They just can't make us all happy. That's life.

Posted by: Hawk at October 21, 2004 09:42 AM