Line Jumpers

If the pandemic flu vaccine works, it may mean the difference between life and death. The US and Canadian taxpayers paid for it. It is free to all Americans and Canadians. It is supposed to be given to people at the highest risk of death if they get pandemic flu. Is that what’s happening?

Not really. It’s going first to the rich, the powerful and the well-connected.

Some examples:

AP, November 5, 2009

Some of New York’s biggest companies, including Wall Street giants Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, received doses of swine flu vaccine for at-risk employees, drawing criticism that the hard-to-find vaccine is going first to the privileged.

National Post, November 4, 2009

The Alberta government is investigating how most players on the Calgary Flames — along with some of their family members, coaching staff and management — arranged to receive their H1N1 vaccine shots in private last week, while thousands of Albertans stood in the cold for hours to be inoculated.

680 News, November 7, 2009

At least seven Toronto hospitals have given the scarce H1N1 vaccine to their Boards and Governors.

Mount Sinai, St. Michael’s, Sunnybrook, Bridgepoint and the University Health Network’s three hospitals are among the list.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer addressed this yesterday saying hospital board members are not health-care workers and therefore are not entitled to the shot unless they suffer from a pre-existing medical condition.

The Chief Microbiologist at Mount Sinai has apologized for the controversy.

Some have attempted to rationalise this sickening behaviour by suggesting that this was just another way to get vaccines to high priority groups. Hey, anyone know when Burger King scheduled their special in-house clinic for their employees? What’s that you say? No special clinics for people making the minimum wage? What a shocker!

Pregnant women have been waiting in long lines only to be told no vaccine for them is available. There won’t be sufficient vaccine for everyone on the high priority list for at least a month. In the meantime, only those with the right connections will be guaranteed access to vaccine in the US and Canada.

The social contract is a fragile thing. Line jumpers don’t just take a valuable resource away from others. They raise doubts about the legitimacy of the government and threaten the rule of law. There is one thing I fear more than a highly lethal, highly contagious virus. It’s the break down of law and order.

Line jumpers. Public enemy number 1.

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2 Comments

Filed under public health

2 responses to “Line Jumpers

  1. deanb2001

    Society works because citizens respect the law and they respect their duty to not act in ways that harm others. We stop at red traffic lights not just because we don’t want a cop to give us a ticket and not just because we don’t want to get hit by another vehicle; we stop and wait because we know it’s the right thing to do.

    We’re in trouble when we decide to ignore what we know is the right thing to do.

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