Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Help Us Get Through Flu 

A flu vaccine shortage looms in this season of vaccination contamination: nationwide, CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding is asking for healthy folks to forego shots this year, and "describe[s] as "heroes" those people who have agreed to step aside so that others can get the vaccine."

The lack of flushots is gonna hit us hard here at NMH. Our usual flushot supplier is Chiron, the company that last week withdrew its contaminated vaccines from the market; today our Director of Health services announced that, although they're looking for an alternative supplier, so is everyone else on the planet.

I'm all for community-scale heroism, even if it's imposed from above. But it's going to take more than voluntary heroes to make the coming flu season manageable. Today's Boston Globe reports that "only about 55 million doses will be available this year, far short of what is needed for the estimated 95 million Americans considered to have the highest risk of death from influenza." After yesterday's mad dash for flu shots across the state, Massachusetts has only 40,000 doses of the vaccine left. Unless you fall into the highest risk categories, getting a shot this year has become morally akin to stealing life from the sick and high risk.

Population density at prep schools puts us collectively at high risk for an epidemic, and the same CNN article that describes the looming crisis lists "all women who will be pregnant during flu season" as among those who will be of the highest risk. So be a hero. Don't get that shot unless you really need it. And if you've got an extra vial of this year's flu vaccine for my 12-weeks-in-and-counting spouse, please pass it along.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:09 AM |

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