Flu vaccine

Oct 24th, 2004, 10:25 AM
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Flu vaccine

I am curious about the availability of flu vaccine in Western Europe. Did other nations foul up as badly as the US in providing proper immunizations to its citizens?

If our health care system is not broken, it strikes me as badly bent!

Just who did fail, and why?
I am not trying to blame anybody in particular, but it strikes me as a derelection of duty when we find ourselves fighting all over the globe, telling other people how to run their business, and starting wars we cannot finish and at the same time we cannot even provide our own citizens with what has become basic health care in the 21st century.

We are back pedaling to the dark ages, and I have a few nominations for who is leading the way.

As Pogo said years ago, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

And for those of you who don't know who Pogo was, I commend you to a web search and dredge up a few samples of Walt Kelly's swamp characters. There were often gems of truth in the voice of these comic strip characters.
bob_brown is offline  
Oct 24th, 2004, 10:31 AM
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As I understand it, the US is short of flu vaccine because a process in a factory in Liverpool (which, last time I checked, was in Europe) was declared unsafe.

There was a failure by your FDA to act on prior warnings about the factory.

But this, I'm afraid, is certainly not an occasion where I'd be desperately keen to boast about our European superiority in planning.

The real lesson, of course, is that this shows how important it is to outsource manufacture to places that can be relied on - like India or China.
flanneruk is offline  
Oct 24th, 2004, 11:12 AM
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This story gives a good overview of the differences between the UK and the US in the way the flu vaccine is handled:


Here's an excerpt:

There were hints of the problems in August and official notification to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in September, but U.S. officials didn't act on the warnings and, instead of trying to bolster their supply from other manufacturers, continued to rely on a company new to the U.S. flu vaccine market with an antiquated factory that had a long-standing public record of contaminations. In fact, the FDA had found bacterial contamination in the process at the Liverpool plant in June 2003 during its own regularly scheduled inspection.

British officials spread their 14 million-dose flu business among six companies. The U.S. placed its demand for 100 million doses on just two companies.

While 25 companies produced various vaccines for the United States 30 years ago, today only five manufacturers are providing vaccines for Americans and of those, only two companies are providing the flu vaccine. Strict FDA regulations, high production costs, a perishable product, low profitability and civil liability concerns are all cited as the reasons companies avoid the flu vaccine business in the United States.

That is not the case in England. Ben Hayes, a spokesman for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said annual flu vaccine purchases in Britain are somewhat more predictable than in the United States because "there is a single purchaser providing a single service through the National Health Service." Unlike the United States, he said, the private market for vaccines in Britain is small.
nonnafelice is offline  
Oct 24th, 2004, 12:39 PM
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Hey guys...this is a travel site..not a political one!
Mincepie is offline  
Oct 24th, 2004, 12:49 PM
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Bob, it is so unfortunate you decided to interject politics here. I could not disagree with you more, but this is a TRAVEL site, and I won't bother here.

Infotrack is offline  
Oct 24th, 2004, 01:01 PM
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Dear bob,

I had expected better of you.
ira is offline  
Oct 24th, 2004, 01:13 PM
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Why even sell a product that you know will eventually lead to a lawsuit by some money-grubbing lawyers? Most of the pharmaceutical companies that made vaccines ten years ago have switched to producing more profitable and less-dangerous (legally speaking) products. I blame the lawyers.
Zeus is offline  
Oct 24th, 2004, 01:26 PM
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"The frst thing we do, Let's kill all the lawyers."
ira is offline  
Oct 24th, 2004, 01:54 PM
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I guess this is the rant in me that comes every four years when approaching elections get me testy.

Even though I will not vote for John Kerry, I have grown weary of the hateful and mindless chant about how all trial lawyers are evil (this is especially rampant among doctors) - - referring typically to John Edwards and colleagues.

And so, ira - - even though I know you meant it satirically, and more figurative than literal when you quoted "Dick the Butcher" (the Shakespeare character in Henry VI who utters this line) ...

<<The f[i]rst thing we do, Let's kill all the lawyers>>

I'm sure this is what O.J. Simpson probably thought about the trial lawyers who represented the family and estate of Mr. Ron Goldman.

Best wishes,

rex is offline  
Oct 24th, 2004, 03:15 PM
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Hi bob_brown,

The best explanation I have heard of the "flu vaccine shortage" comes from the radio talk show host Bruce Williams.

According to him it boils down to simple economics. During the Clinton administration the government instituted price contols on the vaccine's selling price. The federal government being the direct purchaser of nearly 60% of the U.S. supply, they told the drug manufacturer's what the U.S. government would pay for the vaccine.

The result was that many manufacturers could not make a profit selling the vaccine for what the federal government (the largest buyer) was willing to pay for it. Any drug sold has a huge potential product liability component in the U.S. The vaccine supply was diminished by the small if any profit potential of making it.

Again according to Bruce Williams this all happened when Bill and Hillary CLinton were in the White House. As a 20+ year listener of Mr. WIlliam's radio program I tend to believe him. His show is broadcast daily from either his home in Tampa or New Jersey. Last week he was particularly vocal about the problem when Hillary Clinton blamed the current administration for the vaccine shortage.

You may find your local radio station that plays his show from his website: brucewilliams.com. His show is a listener call-in type format and I'm sure he could offer a more succinct explanation. It plays Mon-Fri 7 PM to 10 PM EST.


mendota98 is offline  
Oct 24th, 2004, 06:53 PM
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And this is travel related in what way? I guess we could all get the flu while traveling but honestly not a big worry. I have managed for many years without gettiong a flu shot and I don't think it will be a problem this year either. Just one more way to kill all of the lawyers I guess. Ouch! Once again, without clients us lawyers would have nothing to do so don't put all of the blame on the lawyers. Now, back to travel? Take Care Jackie
jdraper is offline  
Oct 24th, 2004, 07:10 PM
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Big bad bobbie brown - always looking to get in a cheap political shot. Give it a rest. But do go do your homework before you shoot off your big mouth again.
hansikday is offline  
Oct 24th, 2004, 08:06 PM
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sounds like the bushies are getting nervous....
giro is online now  
Oct 25th, 2004, 01:47 AM
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The availability at least where I live is that if you want a vaccine you go to a PRIVATE clinic and some nurse gives you a shot. I have done that ONCE. That was about three years ago when I had so much work that I just could not afford to get sick. Cost about 50 euros. The public health service gives shots to people over 65, and people over 65 only.

I suppose we don't take flus very seriously. Just about everybody gets some flu, usually around January-March. Then people just stay in bed, drink lots of liquids, maybe take some asperines, lots of rest and sleep. Normally in three to five days the person is back on his feet. No big deal.
elina is offline  
Oct 25th, 2004, 01:56 AM
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I forgot: overdoses of vitamin C. Works every time.
elina is offline  
Oct 25th, 2004, 03:01 AM
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isn't it Bush's fault that people get the flu in the first place? I heard that if John Kerry is elected no one will get sick again.......... Remember if it's bad, it's all Bush's fault, but John Kerry will fix it asap.

sorry, couldn't help it Switch the names around if it will make you feel better.
highledge is offline  
Oct 25th, 2004, 03:10 AM
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Why is everyone getting so worked up about Bob's perfectly reasonable question?

At least half the fun of travelling is seeing how people with broadly similar resources to one's own manage the trivia of everday life. Beats comparing one minor capital's dreary collection of post-impressionists with another's.

And this particular problem seems a corker. Here's the free enterprise can-do Republican administration resorting to price controls (which, as every economist knows, guarantee perverse consequences every time) and running out of stock as a result. While the Stalinist National Health Service (the most centrally driven public service in the free world) gets its supplies from a variety of sources, uses competitive tendering to keep prices down, and ensures continuity of supply even though the incompetent factory was on its turf. As always, a free market works better for the consumer than State intervention.

Isn't that a lot more interesting than getting into a tizzy over having coffee with pudding? And if people disagree with Bob (who does, on the face of it, sound a bit of a naive pinko), wouldn't they do more good explaining why than denying him the opportunity to speak?
flanneruk is offline  
Oct 25th, 2004, 03:17 AM
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Bob is like many silly liberals - all bad mouthing and no plan to fix things.

He forgets to mention that Clinton's policies helped cause the shortage in the first place. This is the same pinko who whined to high heavens earlier this year about the airport security.

I just hope he's not polluting the minds of kids at University of Georgia.
hansikday is offline  
Oct 25th, 2004, 03:37 AM
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Shame on you Bob! Isn't stealing Bush signs and telling republicans that the election is on the second tuesday of the month enough meaness? Next thing you know, you'll be registering more dead people and convicts.
degas is offline  
Oct 25th, 2004, 03:50 AM
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With the election so close and so much on everybody's minds, it seems ridiculously artificial to require people to excise that part of their brain before posting a thought on this message board. Many of the folks who say they object to political comments then retort with one of their own. Name calling just reflects badly on the author, but reasoned questions and opinions about travel, governments in the U.S. and abroad, and comparisons of the way different countries handle worldwide issues make for stimulating discussion and interesting reading.
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