The best protective measure to prevent the spread of the flu is vaccination, but the swine flu vaccine is still in short supply. Shipments are picking up speed, but most communities have nowhere near the amount of vaccine they had expected to have by now, and no clear idea of when they will have enough to offer it to everyone who wants it.This is sad because the threat of swine flu hasn't disappeared.
Since the virus - a form of influenza Type A, subtype H1N1 - was first identified in the United States in April, the swine flu has infected at least 30 million Americans and killed about 4,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Swine flu abates, but experts urge preparedness. What exactly happened in the US that most Americans do not have access to the vaccine? Part of it has got to be greed (it always is when we leave it up to the market). But the other part is what can be called the problem of elite networks. Instead of the federal government setting up centers, running huge propaganda campaigns to encourage people to get the vaccine, and making it widely available and free, they let the local authorities make the arrangements. The result is a system of privilege and elite access that is typical for this country. Talking to a friend at an private university in the US, I asked if she will get the vaccine. "Oh, we go the vaccine back in October. Because someone at the university has connections to the CDC." What? Before pregnant women and young children got the shot, privileged university students and employees got it because of connections? Somebody went to Harvard Medical School or whatever elite school with someone else and therefore got access to the vaccine before everyone else? Cut back to Canada. In Montreal, first young children, people with compromised immune systems and pregnant women. Then elementary school-aged kids. Then 11-19 year-olds. Then everyone else. Including 3 foreigners with no insurance cards. But Canadians understand our situation. They understand that as Americans we would have trouble getting the vaccine at home, since the US is more 3rd World than first when it comes to health care. People with money and connections get access first and foremost and the rest of us are left behind. According to the 2000 World Health Organization rankings, the US was 37th. Obviously such ranking systems are flawed, BUT there we are, below Costa Rica. The inability of the US health care system or the federal government to deliver free and fair access to the threat of a pandemic flu should have Americans angry and demanding universal coverage. But it doesn't. Instead average Americans, fed a steady diet of stupidity by Fox News, are responding by believing universal health care to be a "threat" to the "American way." Instead of caring about themselves or their fellow Americans, they protest, scream, yell, and in Arizona,work to change the state constitutions so no person or employer can be "forced" to have health care. What the US really needs before the swine flu vaccine, before health care for all, is an education in critical thinking. The first things average Americans who see universal health care as a threat need is to be able to ask questions about who benefits and who doesn't from the current system. US health care is the best in the world for the rich among us. But for the rest of us, we can't even get a vaccine against a pandemic flu. And in Canada, which supposedly has a scary and awful health care system, a huge chunk of the population is getting vaccinated free and fairly.