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Saturday, October 16, 2004

Flu vaccine shortage was long in the making

During the recent presidential debates, George W. Bush took pride in separating the health care crisis in the United States from the socialized medicine in Canada and Europe. He even incorrectly identified the troubled Chiron company as a British outfit (Chiron is based in California). Now, the U.S. is begging foreign suppliers for extra flu vaccines.

A 79-year-old California woman died Thursday waiting in line to get a flu shot. She had been waiting in line four hours when she fainted and suffered head injuries.

Well, the flu problem couldn't be helped, right? Wrong.

As the New York Times reports:

"[P]ublic health experts have long cautioned against the country's dependence on a few vaccine makers, and yet this has become standard practice. There are now only two major manufacturers for the nation's supply of flu vaccine, and at least a half-dozen other vaccines are made by single suppliers. Britain, by contrast, has spread its order for flu vaccines among five suppliers, precisely to avoid the kind of predicament America now faces."

The full Times story can be viewed here.


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