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Flu Shot Foolishness

Reported by Judy - October 21, 2004 -

How many foolish things can Fox News personalities spout about the flu shot flap in just a few hours? Far too many, as shown on Fox and Friends and Fox News Live today (Oct. 21).

Fox and Friends co-host E.D. Hill thought it was unfair of John Kerry's campaign to criticize Dick Cheney for getting a flu shot while not directing the same remarks at President Clinton. Both of them are heart patients, she said.

Well, yes, but one is still healing from open heart surgery. The other is supposedly healthy enough to be a heart beat (Bush's not Cheney's) away from the presidency.

Fox News Live's Jon Scott interviewed Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah about the flu shot shortage. Hatch, of course, blamed the shortage on medical malpractice lawsuits that supposedly discourage most companies from manufacturing the vaccines. That's good propaganda, but it is not true. Federal law bars lawsuits against manufacturers of vaccines routinely recommended for children (which flu shots are) and requires that claims about faulty vaccines be filed with a federal review board, which provides compensation. Only victims who have their claims rejected may sue. (This according to an article in yesterday's USA Today.)

The real reason companies shy away from flu vaccine manufacture is that the business is less profitable than other enterprises. Several strains of flu exist and it is not always possible to predict which strain will strike during flu season, so companies that manufacture the wrong strain may find themselves with a lot of unsold product. The federal government could guarantee to buy a minimum level of doses from companies in order to encourage production (as it used to do with small pox vaccine), but lord knows, we can't have the government involved in health care. We need to leave that to the free market.

According to GOP philosophy, the federal government can intervene in health care matters only when terrorists unleash a deadly virus in the middle of an American city. Then, it can go hunt for the terrorists.