As you know, there’s a vicious form of the flu going around, commonly known as swine flu. Media outlets have covered people waiting in long lines in hopes of getting the vaccine, only to find out there isn’t enough to go around. A story in The Washington Post today asks “why such a shortage of swine flu vaccine?”
“In July, Obama Administration Officials Said Companies Could Make 80 Million To 120 Million Doses By Mid-October.” (Michael D. Shear and Rob Stein, “Why Such A Shortage Of Swine Flu Vaccine?” The Washington Post, 10/27/09)
• “They outlined an aggressive response to the pandemic, spending more than $2 billion to buy 250 million doses of vaccine and promising enough to inoculate every American.” (Michael D. Shear and Rob Stein, “Why Such A Shortage Of Swine Flu Vaccine?” The Washington Post, 10/27/09)
“But Only About 16.5 Million Doses Have Become Available So Far, putting the administration in an uncomfortable political position regarding what President Obama declared last week to be a national emergency.” (Michael D. Shear and Rob Stein, “Why Such A Shortage Of Swine Flu Vaccine?” The Washington Post, 10/27/09)
The article of course highlights a lot of finger pointing with the Obama Administration blaming vaccine manufacturers, also known as pharmaceutical companies.
The swine flu vaccine shortage is a serious issue, but it should not come as a surprise. Vaccine shortages have become common. In 2005, then-Senator Hillary Clinton wrote in a press release, “since 2000, the nation has experienced three shortages of its annual flu vaccine supply.” (Senator Hillary Clinton, Press Release, “Sens. Clinton, Roberts Introduce Legislation To Ensure Adequate Flu Vaccine Supply,” 10/6/05)
Of course, Democrats used persistent vaccine shortages as a campaign issue against the Bush Administration specifically, and against Republicans in general, in recent elections. In 2005, Clinton issued a press release saying “we cannot handle the threats we face today with a broken flu vaccine system.” (Senator Hillary Clinton, Press Release, “Sens. Clinton, Roberts Introduce Legislation To Ensure Adequate Flu Vaccine Supply,” 10/6/05)
Now is as good a time as any to point out that Hillary Clinton and Big Government played a major role in vaccine shortages.
Then-First Lady Hillary Clinton Managed A Take-Over Of The Pediatric Vaccine Industry. “Before her big health-care reform crashed and burned in 1994, Hillary Rodham Clinton managed to get Congress to pass a government vaccine-buying program for children; her sales pitch was free vaccines for all kids and higher immunization rates.” (Editorial, “Infectious Politics,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/14/04)
• “Thus the government now purchases about 60% of all pediatric vaccines, forcing huge discounts and imposing price caps.” (Editorial, “Infectious Politics,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/14/04)
The Pharmaceutical Industry Portrayed As Greedy To Justify Big Government Power Grab. “President Clinton persuaded Congress to establish the program in 1993 by arguing that vaccine manufacturers were pursuing ‘profits at the expense of our children.’” (Robert Pear, “Audit By Congress Faults A Program For Free Vaccines,” The New York Times, 6/25/95)
Then-Senator Dale Bumpers (D-AR) Called Clinton’s Vaccines For Children Program A “Bureaucratic Nightmare.” “Senator Dale Bumpers, Democrat of Arkansas, a close friend of President Clinton and his wife, Hillary, said the Administration’s plans for ordering, storing and distributing vaccine were ‘indescribably complicated. . . . A fairly simple law, designed to benefit a relatively small group of uninsured children, was transformed into a bureaucratic nightmare that put the safety and availability of a third of our nation’s vaccine supply at risk,’ Mr. Bumpers said.” (Robert Pear, “The Health Care Debate: Immunizations,” The New York Times, 8/23/94)
• Senator Bumpers Wanted To Abolish Clinton’s “Unmitigated Disaster” And “Start Over.” “After reading the accounting office report, Senator Dale Bumpers, Democrat of Arkansas, said in an interview: ‘I would be perfectly willing to abolish the Vaccines for Children program and start all over again. It’s been an unmitigated disaster from its inception. It proceeded on an absolutely false assumption, that cost was the big barrier to immunizations. We have study after study that shows cost is not a barrier.’ Mr. Bumpers and his wife, Betty, have been trying to increase the immunization of children since he was Governor of Arkansas in the early 1970’s.” (Robert Pear, “Audit By Congress Faults A Program For Free Vaccines,” The New York Times, 6/25/95)
After Nationalizing The Purchase Of Over Half Of Children’s Vaccines, Clinton Imposed Price Controls To Keep Down Costs. “For older vaccines used to prevent childhood diseases like mumps, measles and diphtheria, for example, more than half the doses are purchased by the federal Vaccines for Children program. Prices are capped so they rise no faster than inflation.” (Andrew Pollack, “Sometimes, Vaccines Can Be Good For Business,” The New York Times, 10/29/04)
Clinton’s Plan Destroyed Market Incentives To Produce Vaccines, Causing Widespread Shortages. “As the nation tries to comprehend this year’s shortage of flu vaccine, many experts have explained that the vaccines business holds little allure for drug companies, because of low prices, strict regulations and uncertain demand.” (Andrew Pollack, “Sometimes, Vaccines Can Be Good For Business,” The New York Times, 10/29/04)
Taking Losses, Two Vaccine Makers Abandoned Production. “In the late 1990’s four companies supplied flu vaccines but two – Wyeth and King Pharmaceuticals – dropped out, citing low profits . . .” (Andrew Pollack, “Sometimes, Vaccines Can Be Good For Business,” The New York Times, 10/29/04)
By 2004, There Was Only One Company Left Making Flu Vaccines For The Entire United States. “Aventis Pasteur [is] the only company now manufacturing the [flu] vaccine for the United States . . .” (Nell Smith, “Flu Shot Prioritized For High-Risk Cases,” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 10/13/04)
So the next time The Washington Post asks why there’s a shortage of vaccine, you can tell the paper it’s because of Hillary Clinton and a Big Government takeover of the vaccine industry.