Cant get a flu shot? Just ask Congress

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2006

Oh, sweet mother o&8217; mine. I cannot believe what I just read.

The elderly and high-risk are dying while standing in line just to get a flu shot. Heart patients are entering lotteries just to get the vaccine.

I just found out this week that although, as an expectant mom, it would be a good idea for me to get a flu shot, my chance of getting one is approximately equal to my chances of going to the moon.

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And the latest news, gentle reader, is absolutely the very last straw.

According to a Wednesday Associated Press article, Senate Major Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., allowed his Capitol Hill office to be used as a makeshift clinic for giving flu shots to senators.

&8220;That was two days after federal officials announced there would be a severe shortage this year and urged healthy adults to forgo shots so that children, the chronically ill and people 65 and older could get vaccinated,&8221; the article read. &8220;Those are the groups considered most at risk of serious complications from the flu.&8221;

I want to know if our delegation received the shots.

For the record: Bush didn&8217;t receive a shot. Neither did Kerry, Edwards, Nancy Pelosi and Tom Daschle. Cheney did, but as a person with a history of heart disease he probably needs one, so that doesn&8217;t score outrage with me.

Frist, however, scored a shot, as well as Dennis Hastert and Treasury Secretary John Snow.

Supreme Court spokespeople didn&8217;t know whether the justices had had their shots yet. But every one of them, with the exception of Clarence Thomas, are elderly and, therefore, in the group urged to get the shots.

I&8217;ll bet this computer (it&8217;s not mine anyway) they won&8217;t have to stand in line should they choose to get it, though.

Meanwhile, according to the AP, one New York City suburb set up a lottery this week to award 300 flu vaccine doses.

One lottery player, asthma patient Kathy Johnson, was quoted as saying &8216;&8216;they get everything that they want, and we&8217;re just the little peons that work for them.&8221;

You&8217;re not even Southern, Kathy, and I still like the way you think.

Then think about this, Kathy: Your tax dollars are paying for the flu shots those senators and congressman are getting. And not just the older or sicker ones, I&8217;ll wager.

One bright spot: They can use the time they aren&8217;t spending sick with the flu to come up with ways the government could help curb this type of vaccine shortage in the future. It is, after all, a public health concern.

There&8217;s a good use of my tax dollars.

Whew. I feel better.

But it took valuable space away from the topic I was going to write about originally &8212; the people who say there&8217;s nothing to do in Natchez and then ride my bumper or cut me off in traffic in a mad attempt to get where they&8217;re going.

Maybe they&8217;re all rushing their grandmothers to the clinic to get flu shots, but I seriously doubt it.

A word of advice to them, though: Pregnant women are twice as likely to slam on brakes.

Nita McCann

is city editor of The Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3554 or by e-mail at