The newspaper of record explains
Democrats have seized on the vaccine shortage to accuse the administration of being unable to protect Americans - from either illness or terrorism. "If you can't get flu vaccines to Americans, how are you going to protect them against bioterrorism?'' Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, asked in an interview with National Public Radio. "If you can't get flu vaccines to Americans, what kind of health care program are you running?"...
Mr. Thompson said that more had been done to fight the flu by this administration than by any previous one. Echoing comments made in recent days by Vice President Dick Cheney, he said that tort reforms proposed by the administration were needed to help vaccine manufacturers even more.
But Congress in 1986 passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act that largely shields vaccine manufacturers from serious legal liability. Congress voted this year to add flu vaccines to the program, a bill that only awaits President Bush's signature, according to a spokesman for the program.
The flu issue (a real one, not a media invention) also potentially means longer lines at already overcrowded Emergency Departments around the country, and thus becomes a symbol and a symptom of the current state of American health care. In response, the Bush administration accused ED doctors, the doctor of default for those in need, of orchestrating a "money grab".
So to summarize:
- seniors vote
- the two largest senior states are FL and PA
- Bush policies are involved with the flu shortage
- Bush has added the issue to his stump speech and visit to Florida
- conclusion: this is an issue with legs, one that breaks against the President.
Not only seniors, but children with asthma and other chronic medical conditions will have trouble finding the vaccine this year. For many families, women are the health care deciders in the family, taking care of children and their parents, and determining for them where health care is obtained. How this demographic may vote their interests will be a fascinating dynamic.
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