Sunday, October 25, 2009

H1N1 Vaccination: The Difference Between the Obama Administration Being At Fault and Being Responsible

The Disease Management Care Blog has pointed out twice (here and here) that the Obama Administration's health care chops will be tested by H1N1. The President can't blame a lack of any warning, the prior Republican administration, absent regulations or an unfunded infrastructure. While moving virus from eggs to humans is very complicated, this is a public health effort that risks falling short across the entire system bandwidth of health care - most visibly the part owned by the Federal government.

Of course, there is no underestimating the capacity of loonies on the left or the right and the middle to refute the same technology that conquered small pox and polio. The community-dwelling DMCB personally discovered this nuttiness is not confined to distant enclaves and AM radio. The astonished DMCB ran into one urbane and educated colleague who, over a glass of Toasted Head, serenely discounted the research on vaccines. No amount of explanation could get past his blinkered anti-science puritanism.

Whatever. Americans still have the right to make bad decisions.

What the DMCB worries about, however, is that those who correctly decide to get the vaccine won't be able to get it, those unable to get the vaccine will get ill, those who are ill won't be able to get to a physician, those unable to get to a physician will overwhelm emergency rooms, and those in the emergency rooms will overwelm the hospitals. It won't necessarily by the White House's fault, but given their leadership and visibility in this area, they will be held responsible.

Fairly or not, the risk is that opponents of health reform will use a failed vaccination campaign to impugn the Obama Administration's competence in managing the nation's health. The DMCB wonders if this could reduce the odds that legislation will be passed.

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