Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Tag: swine flu


Outdated vaccine production fed swine flu hysteria

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Health officials, scrambling to respond last year to outbreaks of a never-before-seen virus, badly misjudged demand for the swine flu vaccine.

The federal government ordered nearly 200 million doses – double the amount of seasonal flu vaccine produced each year.

The anticipated demand never materialized, and now the government faces the prospect of having to chuck more than 43 percent of the supply that has expired or will soon.

In hindsight, the clamor for vaccine looks foolish. But emerging pandemics don’t lend themselves to official caution. The first rule of knocking down an infectious disease outbreak is: Better an overreaction than getting caught short.

Read more »


Swine flu: Nice shot, if you can get it

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

“We do have a vaccine that works.”
– Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

Federal health officials said this week that the swine flu vaccine boosts patients’ immunity faster than expected – which came as good news to all 12 Americans who have been able to secure a dose.

The vaccine – especially the injectable type sought after by some of the most at-risk populations – is proving more elusive this fall than Michael Jackson and Kate Gosselin costumes.

The federal government assured the country last summer that vaccine companies could produce 80 million to 120 million doses by mid-October. Only 22 million are available so far.

Read more »


Patti Banks: Why did Curtis High get stiffed on flu vaccine?

When it comes to the swine flu vaccine in Pierce County, some school districts are more equal than others.

Below, University Place Superintendent Patti Banks cries foul about the way county health officials allocated scarce vaccine doses to clinics at six high schools, not including Curtis High School. (The “Mike and Debbie” refer to the reporters who wrote the story on the school clinics.)

Mike and Debbie – I want to share with you my concerns about the communication and decisions of the health department with regard to the H1N1 vaccination clinics featured in your story today. We heard of these clinics (which, as your story indicates, the health department has been “closed mouthed” about) only last week.

We immediately contacted the health department for details, since we’ve been working hard to keep our schools and community informed, and had promised that we would let them know when and if vaccination opportunities would be available.

We had also specifically communicated to the health department that we would like to have a vaccination clinic at Curtis High School. The health department (Charron) promised to stay in contact with us and let us know when they would be doing this. This did not occur; last week, Charron at the health department told John Sander, Director of Special Services in UPSD, that she was sorry for not keeping in touch with him.
Read more »


Flu vaccine holdouts could aid and abet pandemic

The nation could be on the verge of a serious swine flu crisis – one that could strain the health system’s ability to cope with it. But many parents and health professionals are reacting to the pandemic with little more than a ho-hum and a shoulder shrug.

Only slightly more than half of parents say they plan to have their children vaccinated with doses being shipped this week. And the Washington State Nurses Association, the union representing MultiCare Health System nurses, is resisting the company’s requirement that employees either get flu shots or wear face masks when near patients.

That’s mind-boggling.

Here are some facts worth considering by the vaccine holdouts: Read more »


Dickensian sick leave abets the swine flu

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Guess what happens when a global flu pandemic meets sick leave rules straight out of the world of Charles Dickens?

Workers get sick. More workers get sick. Customers get sick. Bosses who thought they were making money by forcing sick employees to work wind up losing money instead.

The Emerald Queen’s policy presents the problem at its starkest. According to the people who work there, the Puyallup tribal casino’s busiest days – Fridays, weekends and holidays – are must-work days for scheduled employees.
Call in sick once, you’re suspended without pay for a day. Call in sick twice, you’re suspended for three days. Three times, you lose five days; four times, you lose your job.

Hello, Mr. Scrooge.

Do the casino’s weekend gamblers know they are rubbing shoulders with workers who aren’t allowed to stay home if they get the flu? Emerald Queen managers are reportedly rethinking the policy, which can only hurt their business in the long run.
Read more »


Parental apathy over swine flu

This is disturbing: A poll of 1,678 U.S. parents found that only four in 10 are planning to get their child immunized against the H1N1 virus.

Less than half of those people who aren’t getting their kids vaccinated told the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital that they are not worried about their child becoming ill with the virus. That leaves a whole lot of other parents who appear to acknowledge their kid could get sick, but still won’t give them the shot.

Washington state’s decision yesterday to suspend its rules about the levels of mercury

Read more »


Get your flu shots, health care workers

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition

Health care providers are urging their patients to get flu shots this fall – against the regular seasonal flu and the new swine flu virus.

Uh . . . physicians, heal thyself.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, fewer than half of health care workers got a flu shot last year. That might fly during a normal flu season, but the 2009-2010 season is shaping up to be anything but normal.

The nation’s health care delivery system may be taxed far more than usual due to the new swine flu virus (H1N1). It will need its providers healthy and on the job, not out sick with the flu or, worse, at work with the flu and spreading it to vulnerable patients.

State health officials should give serious consideration to requiring health workers to be immunized against both types of flu – a step New York has already taken. At this point, it’s still voluntary in Washington state.

The swine flu virus is already here – witness the big outbreak at Washington State University. But it will be five or six weeks before immunizations are available for high-risk populations – pregnant women; young people 6 months to 24 years old; caregivers of infants under 6 months; health and emergency medical workers; and adults 25-64 with pre-existing lung or heart problems, or compromised immune conditions. Read more »