Sunday, November 08, 2009

MN-03 : Paulsen Loud and Silent on who should get H1N1 Vaccine

Erik Paulen (R-MN-03) update his blog on Tuesday, November 3rd, to protest that it was “Entirely Unacceptable” to provide vaccines to Guantanamo Detainees.

By making this a post on his blog, it is a statement of political outrage that many may feel. But the protest must be put in context. Why this emotional knee jerk reaction to GITMO detainees and not to Wall Street bankers ?

Just the previous day, Business Week reported that “Citigroup has been supplied with 1,200 units” plus an additional 12 large employers have received vaccines while 16 more are in the pipeline to get vaccines.

Why does Big Business get vaccines ? Well, companies like Goldman Sachs have onsite health clinics (and have received vaccines already) as part of their employee-provided benefit package. Goldman’s 400 or so managing directors and its top executive officers participate in the bank’s executive medical and dental program as part of their benefits at an annual cost of $40,543 which is substantially above the national average (which is about $13,000 for a family of four).

While we wait for Blogger Paulsen to comment on the BW article, let’s evaluate the knee jerk reaction to the GITMO detainee vaccine situation.
A responsible Congressman should review the situtation carefully, put the situtation in context and consider the ramifications. The current number of detainees in GITMO is approxiamately 215 – a relatively low number. As Blogger Paulsen complains “it is entirely unacceptable to make this vaccine available to detainees”, the key word is “available” … unlike in 2003 when the Bush Administration reaction to a potential flu outbreak when detainees were tackled and shackled so prison camp staff could "forcefully" administer the shots -- today these detainees can refuse the vaccines. Will they ? Maybe, they will decline as many will probably be concerned of being experimented on with some sort of truth serum or other drugs. This leads to other problem, if they detainees die without the US Government providing the “availability” of the vaccine, which could be a cause for outrage and complaints of prisoner negligence.
The other obvious question is : do these detainees possess information that if they died would be detrimental to our intelligence efforts ?
Considering this, the outrage is “Entirely Unacceptable” as it is entirely possible that no vaccines may actually be given to GITMO detainees.

Representative Paulsen may have a better case for his district in getting vaccines, if he was more supportive before. In his blog, he acknowledges “vaccine shortages widespread in Minnesota and throughout the nation” yet fails to acknowledge that he voted against HR 2346 which provided $1.85 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency fund to prepare for an influenza pandemic H1N1 influenza (swine flu) which included $350 million earmarked for state and local government preparation.

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