Saturday, October 15, 2005

Flu vaccine

A friend of mine from Virginia sent me the following and I'm passing it on to you:

Since you have a blog maybe you'd be interested in redoing what I've said below and putting it on your blog for others to read. I sent it to Congressman Charlie Rangel and to Nancy Pelosi. I usually get personal responses from Rangel's office at least. I don't even bother with Virginia Republicans. Though I may send this to Senator Warner if I don't get any positive response from Rangel or Pelosi.

I have read that a number of pharmaceutical companies, even overseas, don't produce as much flu vaccine as could be needed because too often the doses they produce are not used, causing them to lose money on production.

My grandfather died in the flu epidemic of 1918-1919. I have always gotten a flu shot every year. It seems to me that there is a rather simple strategy for assuring companies that produce vaccine of sales and people who want it of being able to get it. Set up a system of prior year subscriptions. Why can't congress do something to encourage either doctors or health departments to set up such a system? The shots are still only about $20.00. I'd personally be willing to pay $30 or even $50.00 per shot a year before the vaccines were produced to insure that I could get a shot for myself and for members of my family.

The extra charge could be used to cover the costs for the paper work a subscription system would require and even pay the cost for over production to assure that the most vulnerable would have vaccine available if they failed to subscribe or couldn't afford to subscribe.

I decided to send this to the Democratic Minority Leader before I send it to one of Virginia's Republican congressmen or Senators. If I don't get any personal response I'll send it to them in a week or so. It is simply absurd to be told yet again this year that flu vaccine for the regular flu isn't going to be available till after people over 65 have been given first chance. Our government is surely capable of finding a way to order enough for everyone who wants to get it.

It's certainly an idea worth floating past your senators and congresspersons. Of course, the right way to do this is for the government to order enough vaccine for the entire population every year and then provide the shots free of charge. But pigs will fly before that happens in the United States.

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