July 24, 2002

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

National Shortage of Vaccines
Here is a follow-up to a story on drug shortages that I posted on Morning Meeting last week.

Now there is a national shortage of even the most widely used childhood disease vaccines and the shortage will continue until summer.

The Washington Post reports, “Shots designed to protect children against eight of 11 vaccine-preventable infections have been intermittently in short supply everywhere in the United States since last summer.” Some will remain hard to get for at least another six months.
Here is an FDA resource page

The Post reported:
“This is unprecedented,” said Walter A. Orenstein, a physician who directs the National Immunization Program for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. “I have never seen anything like the supply problems with this many vaccines in the 24 years I’ve worked in immunization.”

There’s no single cause behind the shortages. Instead, they’ve arisen from a combination of business decisions, bad luck and greater than expected demand for the vaccines.

So far, there haven’t been any outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, in part because America’s children have strong residual immunity from high immunization rates in recent years. In addition, the CDC has been rationing supplies and changing immunization schedules to ensure that all children get at least some doses of every vaccine they need.

Nevertheless, pediatricians and public health physicians are viewing the shortages as an extremely ominous development. Many find it appalling that this could happen in a country that spends more on health care per capita than any other on Earth. Many also say that this couldn’t come at a worse time, with immunization under fire from a small, but increasingly well-publicized, anti-vaccine movement.

“It has taken decades to get parents to come to us with their children, and we are in the process of absolutely destabilizing that trusting relationship,” said Louis Cooper, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Disease burden is at an all-time low, and immunization coverage is at an all-time high. And the whole state of affairs is at risk.”

The vaccines in short supply are the DTaP triple-combination that protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (also known as “whooping cough”); MMR, another triple combination that protects against measles, mumps and rubella; pneumococcal conjugate, which protects against seven strains of the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae; and varicella vaccine, which protects against chickenpox.

States Cut Spending on Sprawl

Sprawlwatch has released a state by state summary of how state open space legislation is dying on the vine from budget cuts.

I think this would be a very interesting topic for you to consider. I don’t know anyone who is not interested in preserving some green spaces but at what cost to expansion, business and development?
Here is a sprawl resource page

USA Today reported last month, “Popular anti-sprawl and open-space programs that states eagerly approved during the economic boom of the 1990s are taking a hit now that 45 states face budget deficits.

Some states are cutting funds for buying open space. Others are slashing financial incentives for local officials to practice “smart growth” by controlling development.

Pennsylvania is freezing $50 million for its Growing Greener initiative this fiscal year and another $50 million next year.

Wisconsin, with a projected $1.1 billion deficit in its two-year budget, is considering $500,000 cuts in grants to communities that promote “smart growth,” commonly defined as growth that protects the environment and invests in existing neighborhoods. The state also is proposing slashing funds for open-space preservation and outdoor recreation from $600 million to $372 million through 2010.

Utah cut funding for the purchase of open space from $2.7 million to $700,000 in the 2003 fiscal year starting July 1.

In Illinois, an $800 million shortfall has delayed plans to implement recommendations by a bipartisan smart-growth task force that just completed three years of research.

Sacred Texts
Here is a website that you should “bookmark.” It links you to online versions of every major religious text — online Bibles, the Koran, Eastern Religious sites and more. It is a deep site.

Here is a growing website that tracks who is funding consumer activist groups. It also tracks celebrities to see what causes they are involved in. The site has a lot of pluck.
The site is unique in that it gives you the option to explore a groups financials, major players, missions and connections to other groups. For example, you could look up Greenpeace and see its board of directors, finances and major contributors.
I ran across this site on USA Today’s cyber tech page, which I think does a good job rooting out interesting sites.

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Al Tompkins is one of America's most requested broadcast journalism and multimedia teachers and coaches. After nearly 30 years working as a reporter, photojournalist, producer,…
Al Tompkins

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