10/14/04 — Flu crisis: Kerry blames Bush for vaccine shortage

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Flu crisis: Kerry blames Bush for vaccine shortage

The campaign rhetoric has gotten absolutely ludicrous.

The latest from the lips of Sen. John Kerry: ”We know now the administration knew ahead of time that there wasn’t going to be enough flu vaccine.”

Speaking at a nursing school in Ohio, the senator accused President Bush of “playing fast and loose with the truth” in “pretending to be surprised” over the flu vaccine shortage.

The Kerry charges were given top billing in an Associated Press story that subsequently was given dominant front-page play by at least one major newspaper in this state. The News & Observer’s lead story was: “Kerry makes issue of the flu.”

The Bush campaign immediately fired back that the charge was “baseless and hypocritical.”

And the facts clearly support the president’s position.

According to an Associated Press story last Thursday: “British regulators unexpectedly shut down a major flu-shot supplier Tuesday,” Oct. 6.

That supplier was producing almost half of the flu shots needed by the United States.

Note the word “unexpectedly.” The regulators unexpectedly shut down the vaccine producer.

Is Senator Kerry suggesting that President Bush is clairvoyant?

And even if Bush had known weeks in advance, it could not have prevented the crisis. It apparently takes months to grow the cultures and create the materials necessary to produce the flu vaccines.

The Bush camp couched its response in criticism of John Kerry.

A spokesman for the president said so few companies produce flu vaccine today because of “a broken medical liability system that Kerry falsely claims to want to fix but has voted 10 times against reforming.”

There are plenty of legitimate issues on which both camps have sincere philosophical differences. But it was a stretch to try to blame the president of the United States for a flu vaccine crisis triggered by the abrupt and unexpected shutdown of a major producer in Great Britain.

Published in Editorials on October 14, 2004 10:48 AM