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Flu shots represent a greater problem

Monday, October 25, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:46 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Editor’s Note: The Global Journalist column will appear on Tuesday this week.

As a matter of disclosure, let me say first that I have never had a dose of flu vaccine. That’s because I’m scared to death of needles. For years, my sister asserted if I ever had a shot of penicillin, it would cure any disease I might have. But most of my friends consider the vaccination a fall ritual, and I can understand how upset they are that there is a shortage and they are unable to get a dose.

A recent story from Liverpool, England, published in the Kansas City Star stated that when the British government learned about the problems with the vaccine from Chiron Corp.’s plant, it searched for other suppliers and ended up with several that could deliver the medicine. It made some people in America a little angry.

According to the report, healthy people in England don’t get the vaccine., unlike Americans. And as it stands, the United States has only one other vaccine source, Aventis Pasteur, to meet its needs.

I suppose we could talk forever about the dangers of government being too closely tied to business, but it wouldn’t do any good. The fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “spoke with Chiron officials on a weekly basis and that the company always assured them that the problem was ‘limited,’ ” indicates how deeply held is the faith our government has in the business community. People in other generations learned that government needs to maintain careful scrutiny of profit-making businesses, which is why agencies exist that are supposed to keep close tabs on these enterprises. But, unfortunately, lessons learned by one generation seem to be soon lost by others.

I think it should be made into law that political leaders should be required to spend so many hours a week cracking the history books. One can only wonder how many centuries of human progress are lost because we favor repeating the same old mistakes .

As result of this flu crisis, will we have to form a task force to study how to prevent this sort of thing from occurring again? Couldn’t we just go back and look at the reason why a National Vaccine Advisory Committee was created in the first place? Better still, could we just be faithful to its mission and not be swayed by friendships and political relationships?

Unlike a lot of people, I don’t believe that once this presidential election is over, things will go back to normal (whenever that was). On the contrary, I think this has been such a poisonous political campaign that our nation will be damaged for years to come. The venom doesn’t appear to end in the political contest; it has spilled onto every aspect of life.

The other day, I heard a couple of men begin discussing gasoline prices and within 10 minutes the conversation had deteriorated into a relentless gay and liberal bashing diatribe that went on for nearly an hour. I suppose it’s fair to say that where many are concerned, the stakes in this election are so high and will affect the future well-being of so many generations, that some feel they cannot afford to fail.

The sterile economy, the outsourcing of jobs and the trade deficit are issues which affect the working class and their families, and these are bread-butter issues that are not likely to disappear without some serious action being taken. Stem-cell research and same-sex marriage are issues on which some people have strong feelings that are unlikely to go away once the votes are counted. So, the next president will have to start on the job from day one to try to resolve some of these differences; otherwise, we will go another four years in opposite camps. And we all know the possibilities inherent in a house divided.

At this point, I think most political discourse is dead. The majority of people seem to have their minds made up politically, and outside of an extraordinary occurrence, they are unlikely to change their minds. I’ll be glad when it’s over because I’m concerned with the national media and its influence over political events and how it deals with the fact that so many media outlets are under the control of so few people. We have operated for most of our national life with a press that acted as a watchdog over government. So what happens when press and government become one entity? Does that mean we have a state press?

In any case, I hope that by Nov. 2 the flu crisis will have worked itself out. If so, no one will remember how we got into this crisis in the first place. And life will go on anyway, for better or for worse. It always does.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at nolen@iland.net.


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