Last week, President Obama declared a national emergency because of the H1N1 virus. What had been a matter of concern, was elevated, in the minds of many, to something that is cause for panic. Citizens across the country have spent hours trying to schedule an appointment for a vaccination. Others have waited in long lines in order to get a shot. Parents of "at risk" children have been tying up the phone lines of their pediatricians trying to find out who has the vaccine and where they might go to get their kids a shot. Parents in a Milwaukee suburb spent hours in the rain waiting for a shot. A group of concerned mothers from Maryland will be waking their children before dawn Saturday and driving nearly an hour to wait in line for who knows how long -- all in the hopes of scoring one of 800 vaccinations available in a neighboring county. Pediatricians are waking up in the middle of the night after nightmares about a vaccine shortage. Frustration and anger have been building but there had not been an obvious target for those feelings. That may have changed late Friday afternoon with the news that the Pentagon has offered to give swine flu shots to detainees and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Major Diana Haynie, a spokesman for the Joint Task Force at Gitmo, explained the decision this way. "Detainees at JTF Guantanamo are considered to be at higher risk and therefore they will be offered the H1N1 vaccination." Really? Higher risk than who? Pregnant women are six times more likely than others to have a fatal bout of swine flu -- and yet some of them have been unable to get a shot. The shortage is so severe that state and local health officials have been forced to cancel and reschedule vaccination clinics, and to adjust their strategies about who gets a shot and when. According to this article:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists those at greatest risk of serious illness from swine flu as: pregnant women; healthcare and emergency medical staff who have direct contact with patients; people who live with or provide care for children under 6 months old; children ages 6 months to 4 years; and children 5 to 18 with chronic medical conditions such as asthma and diseases of the heart and liver.
The CDC forgot to list Gitmo detainees. "JTF Guantanamo conducts safe, humane, legal and transparent care and custody of detainees. As such, we must provide detainees the medical care necessary to maintain their health," said the Gitmo spokesman. So Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, the man who conceived the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3000 Americans, is eligible for a swine flu vaccination. But Kristin Bencik, a pediatrician working overtime to treat kids suspected of having swine flu, has chosen to forego a shot so that she is not taking one away from one of her vulnerable patients. And she is really a "higher risk" case -- she's pregnant. It's worth wondering what effect all of this will have on efforts by Democrats to pass a $1 trillion overhaul of the US health care system. As Bill Kristol notes:
we're seeing a big government health care program in operation right now--the Obama administration's effort to deal with the swine flu problem. No, come to think of it, it's now the swine flu emergency. Last week, President Obama so legally designated it. How's that test case in government-run emergency care going? Turn on your local news to find out. You'll see false reassurances, broken promises, rationing which doesn't provide the promised rations, queues lengthening while supplies run out, and lots of bureaucrats explaining just why things aren't working quite as their centrally planned plans had planned. The swine flu emergency is a foretaste of life under the Pelosi Plan. Surely this spectacle, happening in real time before us, will give even more Democrats pause. Do they really want to be known as the Swine Flu Democrats?
It's a good question. And he asked it before word leaked that the terrorists in Gitmo are eligible to receive those coveted shots while thousands upon thousands of normal American taxpayers cannot get one. If you thought people were angry in August...
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