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Thompson Offers Advice to Stretch Flu Vaccine Supply
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson today released the department's plan to assist those Americans in need of getting a flu vaccine to obtain "its equivalent" despite shortages. "Various strains of influenza are analyzed each year by international labs to determine the make-up of the next year's vaccine," explained Thompson, "These experts assemble a vaccine that will kill or control the bugs that are most likely to afflict our population. Unfortunately, while effective, the vaccine is in short supply this year. To alleviate this, we are asking that only children under five be vaccinated. These children will then be allowed to cough and sneeze on the remaining population, thus passing the immunity along." It is believed to be the first such intentional infection program of its kind.

"Any person over the age of 50 would be ill-advised to breathe ..."
-- Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop
"We were not consulted, and we have no comment at this time," said Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC has previously warned of the dangers of allowing such shortages to occur. "If our country ever faces an actual deficit in vaccine supply," said Gerberding in a speech to the Senate in 2002, "You will see widespread work outages, likely resulting in a 2-3% drop in overall work output for a period of three months."

"In theory, such a plan could have some negligible levels of success against influenza," said former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, "However, the benefits could never outweigh the risks of secondary infection. Children are a veritable gold mine of infectious material. Any person over the age of 50 would be ill-advised to breathe in their presence."

Despite wide-spread opinion that the plan is ill-conceived, batches of pre-schoolers are already scheduled to tour the White House and Congress during the first week of November. Plans extend to the private sector by mid-November.
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