Donald Donahue, DHEd, Director of the Center for Health Policy and Preparedness at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, comments this week on the number of Americans who have received the H1N1 vaccine.
SUMMARY: Approximately 20 percent of Americans have been vaccinated against swine flu, according to the CDC’s first detailed estimate. Officials said that rate was good, considering they conducted a hurried campaign against a novel flu virus, using a vaccine that did not become available – then in limited supply -- to the general public until early October. The report followed the recent update from the CDC that more than 11,000 Americans have died from swine flu since it was first identified in April.
Although officials report being pleased with a rate of one in five, those numbers also reflect the reluctance of a portion of the population to avail themselves of the protection offered by an safe and effective vaccine. Estimates are that some 246,000 Americans have been hospitalized from H1N1 influenza and 11,160 died from it or related complications. The question must be posed as to how many of these illnesses and deaths might have been avoided. More significantly, further illness and fatalities are avoidable, given the now widespread availability of H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines. Every individual, every household, every business, and every community accepts a certain level of acceptable risk. As with prior planning for an emergency, the cost-benefit analysis of prevention far outweighs the impact of not preparing. Why someone would accept an easily avoidable risk remains a mystery.
--Don Donahue, Director, Firestorm Healthcare Response Team