Saturday, October 16, 2004

Flu Shots

Ok, imagine that shipments of, say, strawberries from, say, Mexico were stopped at the border because they were contaminated with a bacteria - say, listeria. As a result, all strawberry shipments coming from Mexico were halted until it could be determined how the contamination happened. However, since approximately half of the strawberries sold in the US come from Mexico (say), this means that there will be half as many cartons of strawberries available in the stores this week. What is your first inclination? Will you:

A. Run out and buy up all the strawberries you can, because there's going to be a shortage;
B. Avoid buying strawberries this week, until you know that none of the strawberries already in the stores are contaminated either; or
C. Avoid buying strawberries for a while, because the thought of bacteria-laden strawberries is somewhat unapetizing.

Am I missing something here? On Wednesday, a 79-year old woman died while waiting in line with hundreds of others for a flu shot. Nevermind that it's not even flu season yet. But for every one article I read assuring the public that the FDA would have caught the contamination had the British regulators not, there are 50-100 headlines about long lines at doctor's offices and county health departments. Even fines or jail time for health care workers who do not comply with rationing laws. But no one is asking the question about the flu shots that thousands of are most vulnerable are rushing out to get: are they safe?

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