Auburn ready to fight H1N1 — one problem, no vaccine

By: Jim Ruffalo
-A +A
Glancing at the notebook while defending the U.S. Senate from detractors who claim it has not done enough to save jobs in America.  For a fact, I know of exactly 100 jobs the Senate is working exceedingly hard on retaining ... Another set of detractors not too thrilled with the U.S. Government are the bulk of us potential swine flu targets. After all, it wasn’t too long ago the feds assured us that about 120 million doses of H1N1 vaccine would be shipped by the end of October. Of course, the government never did say which October. But what if it was this just recently expired October? According to the government’s own figures, it fell just a bit short of meeting the goal. After promising 120 million doses, it managed to ship just 17 million. It wasn’t as if we were already drifting into the second year of the possible pandemic. After all, you know how brief a mere 17-month warning can be. The first of many mistakes the government made was placing the distribution system into the semi-capable paws of Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano. When queried just the other day about the shortage of vaccine, Napolitano insisted there was no shortage, “only a delay in shipment.” Thank you for clearing up that discrepancy. Talk about Orwellian! Among the local officials not all that pleased with the feds at the moment is Auburn Fire Chief Mark D’Ambrogi. He’s been placed in charge of emergency management when it comes to distributing the H1N1 vaccine. Only problem is, he just wishes that he had some of it to distribute. “This city has everything in place to distribute the vaccine, and to facilitate its application to local residents.” D’Ambrogi said, then pointed out that the city hasn’t received a single vile of the stuff. Checking into the distribution system we learn that in the past, most vaccines were shipped by private entities. Not so this time around. Besides making the gaffe of having Homeland Security take charge of the process, our government also decided to handle the shipping itself. That would explain the need for secret locations to store the stuff. It also explains the extreme tardiness of the deliveries. According to Dr. Jim Gandley, Placer County’s assistant director of Health and Human Services, the county has received just 22,000 doses. Even worse, that came only in recent days. “We’ve already provided 1,200 doses last week at six of the county’s schools,” Gandley said while admitting that Placer County was supposed to get an initial shipment of 40,000, One county source earlier told me that 150,000 doses had been initially ordered. At the rate we’re going, the bulk of the stuff ought to get here just about the time the current virus has mutated into a new strain. It’s so bad that, according to D’Ambrogi, there’s talk of asking Australia for its left-over vaccine, seeing as how its springtime down under and flu season has ended there. But in fact, the problem is that when you depend upon the same government which made Amtrak the viable transportation system it is, and has made “efficiency” the watchword of its post office system, is it any wonder that the epidemic of dithering has now reached our health system? Press reports say nearby Sacramento County received just 36,000 units, and San Joaquin County far fewer. But Gandley had some words in defense of the feds. He claims the system has reacted “remarkably well” considering we could be in the start of a pandemic, and adds that each year finds the need for a newer vaccine. Gandley also dismissed the urban myth that us old codgers don’t need an H1N1 shot. “While it’s true that (people in their 60s) have an immune system that’s been tested over the years, it hasn’t been built up to the immunity level,” he said, adding that he would advise us senior citizens to get a shot. Naturally, we old folk will have to go to the end of the line, but if the critics are completely correct in their assessment of the latest federal health care proposal, we better get used to bringing up the rear. “As we get the vaccine, we’re giving it out first to nurses and doctors, along with first responders and kids,” Gandley said. As for D’Ambrogi, he already has a system in place to disburse the vaccine to Auburn residents. One plan calls for utilizing the Gold Country Fairgrounds as a massive drive-through clinic. That will work, because that very same scenario was utilized in a recent countywide emergency services drill. It should be pointed out that the idea will work a whole lot better should we actually score some of the vaccine. Jim Ruffalo’s column runs Sundays in the Journal. He can be reached at