"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Monday, October 18, 2004
The shortage of flu vaccine in the United States is "not a health crisis," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said, urging people to be patient as the government works to reallocate the nation's limited number of vaccines....
"We're reallocating those vaccines and shipments to regions that have a shortage, [i.e., everywhere? -Ed.] and we want to make sure first off that our elderly citizens, those age 65 and older, get the vaccine first because that is where the biggest number of vulnerabilities really are...."
"The worst thing for seniors to do is to wait in line and get sick while they are waiting in line. Please, just understand that we're on top of this thing, and we are doing everything we possibly can to protect you and we're going to be able to continue to do so."
In an average year, influenza kills 35,000 - 40,000 Americans. That's with a full complement of vaccinations available. Now, it's certainly possible that this year's strain will be less virulant than usual, and we'll dodge a bullet. Let's hope so. But it's equally possible that this year's strain will be more virulent than usual. If so, thousands of Americans will die unnecessarily.
Let's be honest for just a moment - while it is certainly the case that the Junta has done little to prevent this crisis, it is just as true that they have done little to cause it. Sure, perverse incentives that make drug companies more likely to put their resources into the production of Viagra or Botox than into vaccines are very much in keeping with Republican market-based policies, but the Democrats are just as culpable. While it does not break my heart to see the Boy King squirm over this turn of events, I would be less than honest if I said I thought it is entirely fair that he should do so.
However! For Tommy Thompson to come out and say, in essence, "trust us - this is no big deal" is the height of irresponsibility. It is a big deal. And even though the crisis is not Chimpy's fault, the response to the crisis is entirely the responsibility of his government. A reasonable response requires a sober reckoning - something this pack of charlatans is incapable of facing. And so people will die, some of them unnecessarily, and (as usual) the buck stops over there, somewhere. Thanks, Tommy - you're a peach.