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    Tuesday, October 19, 2004

    Readers Weigh In: On the flu shot:

    I found the issues raised by Michelle Malkin to be quite interesting. It appears that the mean risk of death from flu is pneumonia. If true, why isn't there more emphasis on the pneumonia vaccine? It would seem that would save more people. And, with the shortage of flu vaccine it seems that a program to vaccinate people with pneumonia vaccine would be appropriate. Please comment.

    Looks like officials are starting to push the pneumonia vaccine. Actually, they have been pushing it for a while. A couple of years ago the CDC began a push to expand pneumonia vaccines to people in their fifties rather than limiting it to the elderly and chronically ill. It just doesn't get as much attention because it's a shot you can get any time of the year, unlike the inlfuenza vaccine which is only effective if given a month or two before flu season.

    One other thing about the pneumonia vaccine. It only protects against one type of pneumonia - that caused by the pneumococcal bacteria. Influenza can be complicated by pneumonia caused by a wide variety of organisms, including viral and other bacteria. The pneumonia vaccine therefore isn't perfect protection, but it does confer some advantage.

    Another comment:

    Yeah I agree that the shortage is the result of governmental meddling and an extortionate legal climate. The situation also illustrates how a change can be made and take years for the predicted effects to materialize - we wake up one fine day to find that the vaccine industry is gone. Hmmm, where was John Galt when we needed him? Oh he was there all along and just like in "fiction" no one listened in real life either.

    But aren't we missing something perhaps even more fundamental? I mean, the flu is not exactly a lethal pandemic. It doesn't seriously threaten strong or healthy people. It's just a, well, a nuisance. And nuisance is the level of threat that can be brushed aside and forgotten - isn't that right?

    So what's the fuss?

    Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson apparently agrees. The CDC is working with Aventis-Pastuer, the company that does have flu vaccine approved for use in the United States, to distribute the remaining vaccine to people who need it:

    After pairing CDC information on geographic locations of high-priority risk groups and Aventis Pasteur US information on providers scheduled to receive vaccine for the high-risk populations, this round of influenza vaccine went to:

    * Veterans Administration
    * Long-term Care Facilities/Acute Care Hospitals
    * State Public Health Officials
    * Vaccines for Children program
    * Private Providers Who Care for Young Children

    “More doses of vaccine will be going out over the next 6-7 weeks so there will be more opportunity for those who need the vaccine to get it in time for this year’s influenza season,” said CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding.....

    ....To ensure that providers who ordered vaccine from Chiron this year get also get some of the vaccine they need for priority populations, CDC and Aventis are taking these actions:

    * filling remaining Vaccines For Children (VFC) orders to Aventis Pasteur.
    * contacting states that ordered vaccine from Chiron distributors to begin re-directing their orders to Aventis Pasteur.
    * collaborating with Chiron distributors to identify providers to high-priority populations including long-term care facilities, hospitals, and primary care and specialty physicians.
    * working with the Visiting Nurses Association of America to ensure high-priority populations it serves are immunized as recommended.

    This is one primary care provider who ordered from Chiron and has yet to hear anything about getting flu vaccine. I suspect I'm not alone. My recommendation is to check with your health department if you're in one of the high risk groups (over 65, immunosuppressed, diabetic, chronic heart or lung disease) and your doctor hasn't gotten any vaccine.


    posted by Sydney on 10/19/2004 07:19:00 AM 0 comments


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