Saturday Mailbox


October 16, 2004

New flu strategy could eliminate shortage, delay

In light of the recent news about Chiron Corp.'s inability to provide influenza vaccine this year, we need to examine our policy toward the prevention of influenza in the United States ("Vaccine allotted by risk for flu," Oct. 13).

Many people fail to realize how devastating influenza really is. Approximately 36,000 people die from complications of influenza each year in the United States, and millions die around the globe.

And the economic burden of influenza has been estimated at $12 billion annually in hospitalizations, medical encounters, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and lost productivity.

Finally, children lose a tremendous amount of school days to influenza each year and are known to be important in its spread.

For all these reasons, it would be advisable for committees such as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to recommend universal influenza vaccination of all individuals in the United States, or at least of all American children.

This would force medical insurance companies to pay for the vaccination even of healthy individuals, which they often do not do at present.

For years, U.S. citizens have been dealing with influenza vaccine production delays, which lead to panic use of influenza vaccine.

Vaccine manufacturers depend on consumer demand to decide how much vaccine to make each year.

If the ACIP and AAP were to recommend universal vaccination, then new influenza vaccine manufacturers would be able to step up to the plate and provide more vaccine, and thus reduce the impact of vaccine production delays and of true shortages such as the one we will experience this year.

Dr. James King


The writer is chief of general pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Moms know the time has come for change

As a member of the group Ellen Goodman focuses on in "Debunking the `security mom' myth" (Opinion Commentary, Oct. 7), I would note that moms know, and teach their children, that it's OK to make a mistake as long as they learn from it. President Bush won't even admit his mistakes.

Moms know, and teach, respect for nature. Mr. Bush has the worst environmental record of any president.

Moms know, and teach, that when you run up a debt, there is interest to pay. Mr. Bush turned a budget surplus into the biggest deficit this country has ever seen.

Moms know, and teach, that omitting the truth can be the same as lying. Mr. Bush and his administration have done more than their share of twisting and turning.

Moms know, and teach, that actions speak louder than words, and true spirituality lies in taking care of people who need it most. Today there are more than 45 million Americans without health care benefits, and a lot of them are children.

In the last four years, more people have slipped below the poverty line and more jobs have been lost than created.

Ms. Goodman can rest assured: Moms know that for the sake of their (and all) children, it's time for Mr. Bush to go.

Kitty de Melker

Bel Air

Attack on tax cuts just doesn't add up

Sen. John Kerry's constant harangue over President Bush's tax cuts just doesn't hold up ("Bush, Kerry fight war of words," Oct. 11).

The fact is that everyone who paid income taxes received relief. If there is a discrepancy in the amount of benefits between the middle class and the upper class, that is because of the amount of taxes people pay, not class favoritism.

My income places me in the dead center of what's considered middle class. I'd like to think that one day, I, my children and other Americans will become, dare I say it, wealthy. If that ever comes about, I will be able to state unequivocally that the government had nothing to do with it.

There is a false perception put forth, largely by Democrats and media outlets, that personal wealth is accumulated at the expense of others. This notion flies in the face of reality and marginalizes the hard work of visionaries and entrepreneurs who started with nothing but an idea.

Mr. Kerry often criticizes Mr. Bush for offering "more of the same."

When you compare our economic growth and innovation with those of other nations, I'll take more of the same anytime.

Eric Crabtree


Bush won all funding he sought for the war

Every time Sen. John Kerry criticizes President Bush for sending our troops into combat underequipped, underprotected and without a plan to win the peace, it seems Mr. Bush counters by saying that Kerry voted against $87 billion needed to fund the war ("Bush, Kerry turn up the heat," Oct. 9).

This confuses me a bit: Didn't the measure to fund the war pass? And since it did, Mr. Kerry's vote (which he says was to protest inadequate congressional oversight of the war) is beside the point. President Bush got exactly as much money as he requested, and the troops went into combat equipped exactly as he wanted them to be equipped.

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