Monday, October 18, 2004


Although apparently the Department of Health and Human Services was told that there was great danger in the small number of companies making flu vaccine. There may have even been hints that this year's loss of about half of the available stocks was possible. Despite this, nothing has been done. Although we've known about this looming crisis for a couple of weeks, the government has not - according to an NPR News piece this morning - done any emergency planning for the results of a flu epidemic this year.

But there was an article in today's Wall Street Journal (subscription), that might actually get BushCo. to move on this issue. Seems that business might be affected by the lack of vaccines.

The flu is the leading cause of Americans calling in sick to work, with 5% to 20% of U.S. residents contracting the flu on average each year. According to one survey, Americans miss on average 1.2 to 1.4 days of work each year as a result of the flu.

A recent study by ComPsych Corp., Chicago, found that 40% of people who don't get flu shots miss some time at work because of the flu, compared with less than 20% of people who receive flu shots.

"If we have a normal flu season and there are no shots available we're going to have a significant number of people miss work," says Richard A. Chaifetz, chairman and chief executive of ComPsych. He suggests that any labor-dependent industries that rely heavily on performance during the peak flu season in the U.S. from December through March, could be affected significantly. "In an economy that is forcing people to do more with less, this could be a tough season."
It's not that people will get sick that will get this administration to move; caring for citizens hasn't been high on their list for the past four years, no reason that should change now. But if business is going to suffer, if their corporate donors are going to have less money... well now. That's serious.

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