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H1N1 Vaccine Problems: Gitmo, Wrong Patients, and Shortages, Oh My!

November 2, 2009

Flu_VaccineIt seems like every day there’s a new H1N1 story in news. Either there are shortages, mishaps, people standing in lines for hours, doctors turning people away from their clinics, people having bad reactions to the vaccine, etc. Now we get news that amongst all the tomfoolery, there’s going to be a hefty batch of vaccines headed to our favorite little bunch of misfits at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There are so many problems with this vaccine its difficult to even know where to begin. But one thing is clear, its the governments first duty to protect its citizens, right?!?

First of all, we’re sending a bunch of vaccines to the detainees in Cuba. Ok, I get it, we need to prevent prisoners from getting sick and dying, because there’s some clause in the Geneva Convention about it, fantastic! But lets be realistic here, there isn’t enough vaccines to give to every American, but we’re going to take from what we have and give it to non-American alleged terrorists? Um…Hey Obama, that’s not how its supposed to work! But what do I know, I’m just a regular American, with no criminal history, wait…even the criminals in our country aren’t getting the vaccine! They’re exposed to the same risk as the Gitmo crew, confined quarters, limited access to proper health care, etc. So when I read articles like the one from the AMA, about how difficult things are becoming for doctors, I probably shouldn’t think anything of it because hey, at least those guys down in Cuba are getting properly vaccinated. To be fair, a majority of the doses are going to military personnel first (mandatory vaccines), then the prisoners will be briefed on the vaccine and can choose to get it or not.

Well sure, that’s all well and good, but there are stories breaking every day about mishaps with the vaccine in the States. Just today, I saw a story about nurses being so overwhelmed that they’re accidentally giving the wrong students the H1N1 vaccine. As many as 3 students have received the vaccine without parental permission. One child, Nikiyah Torres-Pierre, had a terrible reaction to the vaccine which landed the 6 year old with epilepsy in the hospital. Her teacher sent the wrong student down to the nurse and the nurse never asked the girl’s name to verify she was injecting the right person. Nikiyah’s mother said she didn’t send in the permission slip because she was waiting to hear back from her family doctor to make sure the vaccine would not interfere with her daughters epilepsy medication. The terrible mistake was made even more fishy when the nurse who mistakenly injected her daughter requested that her mother sign a consent form, after her daughter had received the injection.

So, not only are we having a shortage of the vaccine because of prisoners at Gitmo, mistakes in administering them, but we have to take into account that its also the regular flu season. The companies that are producing the vaccine for seasonal flu, are the same ones producing the H1N1 vaccine and doing both at the same time are producing less of each product. The U.S. government has ordered 250 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine, the week of Oct 14-Oct 21, 5.4 million doses were shipped. Well that’s just fantastic! By the time we get all 250 million doses the flu season will be over. But once again, good work on being prepared! At this rate, an estimated 5 million doses a week, it’ll take roughly 50 weeks for all the doses to be delivered. (That’s obviously not taking into account the amount that we have already received)

The Obama administration has already declared H1N1 a national emergency, yet, it kinda seems like there isn’t much of an emergency at all. At least not by the way they’re reacting to the shortages and the insanity at the clinics. But at least we have it in writing that they declared it a crisis, so when all of this goes down hill, we certainly can’t blame the epidemic on Obama and crew, because lets face it guys, H1N1 started under the Bush Administration, Obama simply inherited this crisis.

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