Friday, October 15, 2004

The Bush Administration is partly responsible for the flu vaccine shortage.

Why you're right:

1. The Bush administration knew about the shortage and didn't do anything about it. The administration found out about the shortage – caused by contamination at a factory owned by Chiron in northwest England – in mid-September. Britain found out at the same time and responded to the warning by quickly securing alternative supplies. (Washington Post)

2. The Bush administration failed to encourage more companies to produce vaccines. Part of the problem is that there are only a handful of manufacturers. The Bush administration could have encouraged more suppliers to enter the market by buying vaccines directly, promoting flu shots more aggressively or requiring health insurance companies to cover flu shots. (CBS News)

3. The Bush administration is responsible for regulating Chiron. At the debate on Wednesday Bush said Chiron is "a company out of England." But Chiron is based in California. The government has now decided to investigate if the company violated U.S. law. (Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Times)

Why they're wrong:

The Bush administration claims it was not told by British authorities until October 5 that the plant was going to be shut down. But that misses the central point. The administration was told about contamination problems at the plant on September 13. The British took that information and made alternative plans. The Bush administration did nothing. (FDA, Washington Post)