Human Exceptionalism

I’m Unsure About Massive Swine Flu Vaccination Plan

The Feds are apparently planning a mass inoculation drive to vaccinate people against the Swine Flu. From the story:

Government health officials are mobilizing to launch a massive swine flu vaccination campaign this fall that is unprecedented in its scope — and in the potential for complications. The campaign aims to vaccinate at least half the country’s population within months. Although more people have been inoculated against diseases such as smallpox and polio over a period of years, the United States has never tried to immunize so many so quickly. But even as scientists rush to test the vaccine to ensure it is safe and effective, the campaign is lagging. Officials say only about a third as much vaccine as they had been expecting by mid-October is likely to arrive by then, when a new wave of infections could be peaking. Among the unknowns: how many shots people will need, what the correct dosage should be, and how to avoid confusing the public with an overlapping effort to combat the regular seasonal flu.

I am sympathetic to the need to be prepared, and understand the impetus, but this doesn’t sound good at all.  I’m old enough to remember the Gerald Ford Swine Flu inoculation debacle.  It helped ruin his presidency. and as I recall, caused much more harm–hundreds of cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, including some deaths–than good.  The current Swine Flu doesn’t seem to be especially virulent or particularly dangerous–so far–and if that is true (someone, please correct me if I am wrong), I wonder if it is worth the resources and the potential to interfere with normal flu shots to roll out a huge inoculation campaign for which we are not really prepared.

These days, policy is too often driven by a tabloid sensationalism. The Swine Flu has reached the pandemic stage.  There are certainly things we can and should all do regardless of inoculations to prevent infection. But this rush-rush and seeming panic makes me think of the botched Fed/State/Local response to Hurricane Katrina; not enough planning, not enough resources, etc.  I hope I am wrong, but the poorly administered little “Cash for Clunkers” program doesn’t give me any cause for confidence.