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Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

Posted by Kathy G on 10/08/04 at 09:10 (161146)

I went to the local supermarket yesterday and they were having a flu shot clinic. I didn't even know they had one scheduled. They were giving people a checklist to see if they were among the high-risk people who qualified for the vaccine. I wasn't interested but looked at the list and then I wondered how they knew if people were lying about their risk factors. I mean, what was to stop someone from telling them that they were a daycare provider or an asthmatic? They didn't ask for proof.

Most of the public flu clinics around here have been cancelled so I was surprised to see they were having this one. Both my children and I have always been considered to be 'high risk' but only because if we get the flu, we get bronchitis. That's not big deal as we can take antibiotics and get over it, although sometimes it can take a month or so. Nonetheless, I wouldn't consider myself high risk enough to get the vaccine this year when it's in such short supply. I'd feel guilty.

It's unfortunate that the English company had to close down but wouldn't you think that there would be more suppliers than there are? It's not the first time they've run into problems with supply. For many people, the flu can be life threatening. Seems like there's a market here for some enterprising company.....

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

Suzanne D. on 10/08/04 at 09:25 (161149)

I agree, Kathy! I have gotten a flu shot every year for some time now since I work with young children and am exposed to a great deal of sickness. But I would feel guilty to try to get a shot now, too. I don't even have an asthma condition. My husband and daughter do, and I hope they can get a shot. My younger daughter does not have asthma, but I was hoping as a college freshman that she could get a shot since I remember the sickest I ever was with the flu was my first year away in the dorm. But she would have no high risk factors to qualify.

I don't understand how this happens. There have been several years in which there is reported to be a short supply of the vaccine. Sometimes it seems like some sinister plot, but then I think I read too many Nancy Drew mysteries as a child!

Suzanne :)

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

Ed Davis, DPM on 10/12/04 at 16:54 (161360)

You would think that US companies would jump in. Vaccines are a high liability item so US drug companies have backed off from their manufacture.

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

john h on 10/12/04 at 18:41 (161366)

I wonder if there is the same problem of a shortage of flu vaccine in Canada,Japan,German,England,etc? Since the U.S. apparently had contracts with only two providers and we lost one I understand but how about other industralized nations? No mention if this is a world wide shortage or a U.S. shortage. If you look around Little Rock you can still find the shot if you want it. Walgreens redirected all their vaccine to some center that redistributes it to high risk people. Vaccine is already being price gouged with a vile normally costing $85 found to be selling for $900. You can bet we will be seeing the supply being filled from across both borders as there is as much profit here as in drugs. You can walk across the Canadian border and buy your prescription drugs. Does this mean you can walk across and get a flu shot? Kroger was still giving shots this morning. As a health care worker in a hospital my daughter has still not got her shot and she works in the emergency room. The hospital (a very large one will not offer it this year to any employee) so she will have to find it on her own. Many large companies normally give their employees free shots (Home Depot,most airlines, etc) but this year they will not be giving the shots. My personal take is a lot of good hearted people will forego getting the shot thinking it will go to someone who is at high risk but in fact will go to someone with money, has contacts, or knows how to access the system. Suzanne is a teacher & I wonder if she fits the high risk group. She should because if she gets the flu she could pass it on to her class who could pass it to their parents. Selecting high risk groups is not easy task as it goes way beyond the aged and people with certain diseases. God would have to think this one through.

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

john h on 10/12/04 at 18:53 (161368)

How right you are ED. I think it was in the 80's when a number of people died from the flu vaccine and the good old trial lawyers stepped in and as a result we only have a few manufactures left and I assume they are all in other countries. I will be closely following Merck to see just how they will survive the Vioxx lawsuits. Somehow this country has to get control of the punitive awards being won against companies that serve the public good. If Merck were to go under how is that going to help society. We pass out $10-$20 million punitive awards like there is no end to money and then we harp about health care cost. Typical liability insurance for a Doctor (not a GYN or Anathesiaologist) is over $100,000 per year with a big deductable. How much does this add to our office visit? Doctors have to practice defensive medicine meaning you will get a lot more procedures than is necessary and their are many other hidden cost that go into our tort laws and awards. John Edwards made around $35 million as his take in suing companies (think it may have been tobacco companies). I talked to a Vet who opted out of Medical School because of the insurance problems. It is now harder to get in Vet school than medical school. Can you sue a Doctor in England or Canada where they have a state run medical system? Of course in this country you cannot sue the federal government.

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

LARRY MARTIN on 10/21/04 at 21:55 (161948)

----- Original Message -----
From: Dorothy Schwartz
To: Lou Peters ; Annie B. ; HelenFusaro ; Mary Bettty and Jack ; MarySwanson ; Jeannie Erickson ; Jackand Deb ; Doug Schwartz ; Tomand Nancy ; Ann Kingry ; JanShoberg ; Janette Downing ; DianneGerhardson
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 11:10 AM
Subject: Fw: Flue Shot Info

How the vaccine works:

Influenza vaccine is produced by growing the virus in eggs. The virus is killed and processed to create the vaccine, which is given by injection under the skin. The body then produces antibodies to the virus over the next two to four weeks. If the immunized person then comes into contact with the influenza virus, the antibodies attack and kill the virus before it has a chance to cause infection. The vaccine contains the 3 most likely strains to be active during the 'flu season'.

Why the shortage:

Almost half of the nation's flu vaccine will not be delivered this year. Chiron, a major manufacturer of flu vaccine, will not be distributing any influenza vaccine this flu season. Chiron was to make 46-48 million doses vaccine for the United States. Chiron is a British company. Recently British health officials stopped Chiron from distributing and making the vaccine when inspectors found unsanitary conditions in the labs. Some lots of the vaccine were recalled and destroyed.

Why is our vaccine made in the UK and not the US?

The major pharmaceutical companies in the US provided almost 90% of the nations flu vaccine at one time. They did this despite a very low profit margin for the product. Basically, they were doing us a favor. In the late 80's a man from North Carolina who had received the vaccine got the flu. The strain he caught was one of the strains in that years vaccine made by a US company. What did he do? He sued and he won. He was awarded almost $5 million! After that case was appealed and lost, most US pharmaceutical companies stopped making the vaccine. The liability out weighed the profit margin. Since UK and Canadian laws prohibit such frivolous law suits UK and Canadian companies began selling the vaccine in the US.

By the way...the lawyer that represented the man in the flu shot law suit was a young ambulance chaser by the name of John Edwards. IS THIS TRUE?

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

Dorothy on 10/22/04 at 01:34 (161955)

I don't anything about the flu aspect of your post, but I am going to take strong objection to your characterization of Mr. Edwards or of any lawyer as an 'ambulance chaser'. Maybe some are of that ilk, but there are unscrupulous individuals in ANY and ALL professions, trades, walks of life. I always want to tell the stories that I know of personally of horrendous, horrible, terrifying, things that were done to some good friends and/or family members by doctors. They are absolutely chilling. Some 'ambulance chaser' lawyers made the absolutely, unquestionably, undoubtedly responsible doctors be held accountable. I think the mindless bashing of attorneys, used so manipulatively and disingenuously by certain political figures, needs to stop. Doctors and hospital personnel are not without flaw anymore than lawyers are. Who is the first person YOU would call if you needed help in a legal situation?
WebMD is running a most interesting series about racketeering and criminal rings and counterfeit drugs - where? - right here in the good old USofA - largely Florida. The sick and dying people who were provided these drugs - which, by the way, netted some 59 MILLION dollars to doctors, accomplices, and pondscum - let's see - what should they do? Turn the other cheek? Say, well, mistakes - they happen... What most of them did was call a lawyer and sue for punitive damages and for reimbursement for drug charges. Do you really think THAT is ambulance chasing?? US Big Pharma is not some sort of poor underdog here. It is huge and it is hugely profitable and it wields entirely too much power and influence and it is far, far, far from beatification status! And, by the way, if you do not KNOW that what you are ascribing to Mr. Edwards is true, you should not be writing it!

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

Elizabeth S. on 10/23/04 at 02:49 (162011)

Chiron is NOT a British company. It is an AMERICAN company. Chiron Corporation is an Emoryville, California company with manufacturing facilities in several countries; flu vaccine is only one of its products.

The lawsuits in the 80's were not due to people contracting the flu after having received flu vaccinations; they were due to a number of people having DIED as a result of receiving the flu vaccine. I cannot find any evidence citing John Edwards as being involved in any of these lawsuits.

The posting about 'Flu Vaccine Shortage' which calls Chiron a British company, falsely reporting John Edwards as winning a $5 million award for a man contracting the flu, is an 'Urban Legend' being circulated on the internet. If John Edwards had, in fact, been involved in this it would have been broadcast from the treetops weeks ago by his opponents. One can check out John Edwards' cases on findlaw.com.

Having received this story by email, I set out to research its accuracy...thus the above information. Searching (and learning that is is way off base and full of inaccuracies) is what linked me to this site.

I don't have heel spurs, but know people who do and I know it is really a painful problem. I hope all of you guys find relief!

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

Linda S on 10/23/04 at 14:00 (162023)

Where can I find information about John Edward's participation in frivolous lawsuits targeting pharmaceutical companies in the 80's? My father forwarded an interesting email which states that Edwards pocketed an enormous amount of money as a young trial lawyer. These lawsuits have forced many companies from producing the flu vaccine here in America. Interestingly enough, after doing some research on 'Google' (80's flu vaccine Edwards) the main story had been pulled from their website - freerepublic.com (10/22/2004.)

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

john h on 10/23/04 at 18:32 (162032)

Linda I think he made most of his money in the tobacco lawsuits.

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

john h on 10/23/04 at 18:49 (162033)

Linda my understanding is we have only one company in the U.S. who makes flu vaccine and has been noted on many TV programs it is because of lawsuits. If a compnay in England can produce half of all the vaccine we need at less than half of what it cost an American company to produce the vaccine (lawsuits) then we just are not going to get anyone in to the flu vaccine business uneless the government steps in and affords them some sort of protection. Not protection from a normal lawsuit but the enormous awards for pain and suffering or to punish the party being sued. Actually, many of our well know drugs are made overseas. Thersa Heinz Kerry's companies have 26 facilites located overseas. Even Senator Kerry has said there is not way to completely stop so called 'out sourcing' and stay competitive in the world market. I was looking at a new Honda Accord yesterday and noted on the sticker that 90% of its parts are manufactured in the USA. We have a lot of jobs available in our country that Americans just will not do anymore. I estimate that 95% of all roofers in Little Rock are from Mexico. I would think these guys are making no less than $10 per hour. Tyson Food the largest producer of chickens in the world is located in Arkansas. I bet 70% of their employees are from Mexico. We have a lot of jobs Americans will just not do anymore even though they pay a decent wage. I think economically speaking we are at full employment when the unemployment rate is between 4-5%. This is because you always have people between jobs, people who are not looking for jobs or even want a job

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

john h on 10/23/04 at 19:02 (162034)

Linda: following is a site that will precisely outline Senator Edwards lawsuits and awards. It is very interesting:


Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

Dorothy on 10/24/04 at 00:24 (162043)

I'm imposting on your conversation, if I may (you can tell me if I mayn't, but it will be late! :-)

John H, you said 'Linda my understanding is we have only one company in the U.S. who makes flu vaccine and has been noted on many TV programs it is because of lawsuits.'
If this is the reason, then why are ANY drugs manufactured in the U.S.?
Why are any medical devices manufactured in the U.S.? Why are any medical procedures performed in the U.S.?
It's not about liability. It's about greed.

Why are there many/multiple manufacturers for drugs for issues like erectile dysfunction but only two (previously) for influenza vaccine?

And if, as you say, 'many of our well known drugs are made overseas', then how legitimate are the claims of this administration that they want to protect all of us from the unreliability of drugs coming in from other countries - unless, perhaps, Canada wants to sell some of its flu vaccine to Tommy and George and Dick, in service to restoring 'confidence' in the administration between now and November 2!

What a bunch of balderdash, to put it mildly.

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

Dorothy on 10/24/04 at 00:25 (162044)

John H and Linda - I wrote 'imposting' but I mean 'imposing'. However, 'imposting' is not such a bad word for what I am doing!

It's my foggy brain following the big game and its outcome.
Even so, I will offer congratulations to the Red Sox fans.

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

Dorothy on 10/24/04 at 00:39 (162045)

John H. - did you read the attorney's commentary/essay in the Law link that you provided? He said that, in fact, awards had actually declined - declined! (You wrote: 'Not protection from a normal lawsuit but the enormous awards for pain and suffering or to punish the party being sued')

That attorney said that Edwards actually has a reputation of advocacy for personal responsibility.

And when it comes to 'punish the party being sued', what is wrong with that if the party being sued has done acts punishable? Do you feel, similarly, that criminals should be exempt from punishment if they have been convicted of wrongdoing?

One of the cases cited, the girl who suffered the horrible, horrible damage when she was sucked into the drain - and there had been other similar complaints about that manufacturer - what do you think should happen? That the parents of that disemboweled girl should say, 'Oh, well....these things happen...'!!!
What would YOU do if any of these things happened to you or your loved ones? I can tell you that I have personally had TWO events in my life in which I could easily have joined a class action lawsuit and won lots. Those who joined - and they did so rightly and completely justifiably - did win lots. I have no regrets, but neither do I think in the slightest that those plaintiffs had anything to do with driving up medical costs, driving doctors out of the medical business or with any diminished integrity. The myth of huge settlements for outrageous suits is just that: myth. Even on the occasions when a jury has awarded a huge settlement, they rarely hold up and a plaintiff rarely ends up with the awards that are so widely reported! Propaganda - and people increasingly are not buying it. I will assume that you are not talking about, and I certainly am not talking about, those cases of outright con artists, whether doctors, insurance companies,manufacturers or consumers/patients.

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

Dorothy on 10/24/04 at 01:43 (162047)

You wrote: 'Edwards pocketed an enormous amount of money as a young trial lawyer...'
Is this a crime? Are you as offended by Cheney's 'pocketing enormous amounts of money'? How about the Bush family? Does it really offend you more that Edwards 'pocketed enormous amounts of money' for providing a legal outcome for a person whose life was destroyed by negligence, for example, than you might be offended that greedy rich men pocket enormous amounts of money while sending your sons and my daughters off to be maimed and die for their profits and their fathers and their corporate interests and those of their pals?
And all of the wealth of the Heinz family: they have done a lot of good with it, just in Pittsburgh alone. Garry Trudeau, who knew Bush in college, said he was mean and petty and small-minded - (close approximation of the quote) - just the kind of guy(s) and their 'gals' who would find all lawsuits that benefit the underdog 'frivolous' and those that benefit them and their kind, suitable.
Do you think trial lawyers of any age should not be paid well for fighting - and winning- against all the corporate power in the world?
What exactly IS a frivolous lawsuit? Can you actually cite one that is both frivolous AND actually went through to its completion where a greedy, nasty plaintiff won enormous amounts of money for oh, say, being disemboweled? (see the link that John H. provided)
I suspect that when you or your father or any of your family members really need a lawyer in life, you would crave a lawyer like Edwards who knows how to win for you - and you might be even be so lucky as to get one with a heart, in the process!

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

Dorothy on 10/24/04 at 01:45 (162048)

Bless you, Elizabeth S. I hope you read this.

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

john h on 10/25/04 at 12:47 (162106)

Dorothy: I have no particular problem with John Edwards. I do have a problem with our legal system as it has evolved over the years. Even in my life time. It has not been many years ago that you would never see an Attorney advertise in the papers or on TV seeking clients to sue someone. To encourage someone to sue they advertise if you do not win you do not pay. This clearly will attract numerous people to sue even if they do not have a good case. The lawyers now are so specialized they advertse that they specialize in suing trucking companies, medical malpractice, birth problems,hospitsls and on and on. These attorneys will now take around 1/3 of any award. The cost to the public is enormous and often hidden. Even when the person being sued is not liable the cost of defending yourself is built into the cost of what ever product or service is provided. Doctors practice defensive medicine often ordering procedures that are unnecessary. Having worked in the over the road truck business I can tell you that liability insurance for an over the road tractor is so enormous that many small operators are driven out of business and the cost of all the products they deliver is passed on to the consumer. I would guess that liability insurance for one over the road tractor to be on the order of $3000-$5000 per year with a large deduct. If you are running a 1000 tractors like J.B. Hunt you can see it is very expensive It is ofter less expensive for defendants to settle rather than fight these lawsuits. Trial Lawyers defend thier practices with enormous contributions to political paries. Many of our Congressment and Senators are Lawyers so it is difficult to get any change through our Congress. I think everyone has the right to sue when wronged and should be compensated accordingly. The problem comes largely with punitive awards not the awards from actual damages. Results from the way we deal with these lawsuits is fewer Doctors in high risk specialities, higher medical cost, higher product cost for almost any product due to product liability insurance and trasportation liability insurance cost. The current shortage of flu vaccine is largely the result of no American producers (one actually) as the liability of producing this vaccine makes it unprofitable to enter the business. Ten years ago my company was sued for $10 million dollars for what I would consider a frivolous lawsuit. I knew the man well who sued us and he told me that my company was a large northern company and a southern jury would come down on his side. We of course had to defend ourselves and counter sued. Five years later after many depositions, investigations, etc we went to trial. The trial lasted 4 days and the jury came back with no fault on either side. Our legal expenses for my company was approximately $300,000. His were approximately the same. He was forced into bankruptcy. His lawyer who led him to believe he could win was $300,000 richer as was ours. We really need some sort of tort reform in this country as it is out of control and getting more so every day. Tort reform does not mean we are preventing people from suing and being compensated for their real damages.I personally know 4-5 lawyers who have become millionaires overnight. One good $20 million dollar winning lawsuit and yor are home free. How much did that lady receive who sued McDonalds for having coffee that was to hot and she burned herself when she spilled it in the car?

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

Dorothy on 10/25/04 at 15:18 (162122)

Re that McDonald's 'hot coffee lawsuit' - that has taken on an amazing life of its own. What a job - however incomplete and prejudicial - the reporting on that was! First of all, it was not a case of her spilling hot coffee and wanting to be paid for her carelessness and it was not a case of stupidity over being surprised that hot coffee is hot. In fact, the coffee that she was served from that McDonald's was extremely hot and exceeded McDonald's own guidelines. Secondly, she received something like third degree burns from it - something that is unlikely from spilling an ordinary cup of coffee (and if you drive at all, you know how many people drink coffee and drive). She had skin grafts, for example. And finally, the jury did award her a large sum of money. However, once all of it was appealed and reduced and appealed and reduced, she did not get anywhere near the amount that was widely reported - when everyone's perspective was successfully manipulated into thinking she was a moneygrubbing scam artist represented by one of those 'ambulance chaser' slick lawyers and she got a big wad out of it. Not the truth, not the case.
If you bought a cup of coffee at McDonalds quite regularly and thought you knew what to expect and then all of a sudden one day it was three times hotter than usual and three times hotter than it should have been and you were severely burned as a result - and you had surgery and grafts and scarring as a result - would you really just slap yourself on the forehead and say, 'how silly am I!' I don't recall all of the specifics of that case anymore, but as I recall that McDonald's had 'upped' the temperature of its coffee - not complying with McD policy or health regs. - to a recognized (later, under investigation) dangerous level.
I don't know, John H - I know that there ARE scam artists and criminal minds and greedy opportunists and I know that there are people who commit insurance fraud and it hurts all of us and it costs all of us and it makes me angry. However, I also know that there are legitimate cases that need legitimate prosecution in the courts - and things are not always what they seem nor are they always as they get reported in the popular press. For all of the excellent, conscientious, responsible doctors (and they are, no doubt the majority), there will be that drunk doctor who amputates the wrong leg or there will be that doctor who didn't bother to read the history or the anesthesiologist whose attention wandered - all of these things have happened. The courts are where accountability gets assigned. (And then later, one hopes, by higher power.)
On all of your other points, you have my full agreement and I think you make excellent points. Everything in our country of so over-lawyered that it has slowed everything to a tedious crawl, but we must be very careful about tossing around babies and bath water.

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

Chris L. on 10/26/04 at 16:20 (162213)

Is it true? No.


Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

CWB on 10/29/04 at 11:15 (162415)

You are right, Dorothy. It is the 99% of lawyers who are unscrupulous that give the rest of the profession a bad name. Seriously, though, I've been arrested and sued and on a jury and otherwise come into contact with our legal system and have always been glad to have a good advocate when I needed one. And, as is true with most folks, my circle of relatives and friends includes lawyers -- as does the group of people I had just as soon never see again. Charles

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

Woody L on 10/31/04 at 11:54 (162622)

The three times the expected temperature is laughable. 212 Deg. F is as hot as it can get and remain liquid.

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

EdC on 11/02/04 at 05:08 (162756)

You must know that this story is an almost complete fabrication. Why do you post such lies. It makes those who support Bush look bad. This is obviously politically motivated. Please in the future use arguements based on facts to support your candidate.

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

Dorothy on 11/02/04 at 12:18 (162777)

It was figurative speech, 'Woody L'. But thanks for the science lesson.

Re: Our flu shot discussion was unnecessary, wasn't it?

Dorothy on 11/02/04 at 12:25 (162778)

What are you talking about?

You wrote: 'It makes those who support Bush look bad.'

Really? It's posts on heelspurs.com that do that?

What story? What 'fabrication'? What 'lies'? What are you talking about?

Of course the flu shot discussion had political aspects to it. You are skilled at stating the obvious. No one made any other claims in the discussion.

It appears that you are a Bush supporter. If so, one hopes that you herald a change of attitude when you say 'use arguments based on facts to support...' We are all in agreement with that statement. Please recommend the same to those you apparently suppport.