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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined who will get the vaccine for the H1N1 flu virus in the event of a shortage, but the priority groups don't line up well with the groups most likely to die from the disease. The H1N1 vaccine priority groups, in order, are pregnant women; people who live with or care for children younger than six months of age; healthcare and emergency medical services personnel with direct patient contact; children 6 months through 4 years of age; and children 5 through 18 years of age who have chronic medical conditions.
It would be logical to consider not just the percentage of the general population each 'group' makes up, but also the mortality within the groups and the size of the groups.
If for example, pregnant women and small children they are in contact with have a 45% mortality rate vs. 25-49 year olds having a 3% mortality rate then that would in my mind be a very significant relationship to consider.
WARNING: I have no actual numbers, but simply invented some to illustrate my point.
Then if you consider the population of each group vs. the total number of shots available, I suspect the moms and kids group would require an extremely small number of shots as opposed to the 25-49 group. If so, you would be able to have a significant impact on the 'moms' with little offsetting damage to the 25-49's.
My point is that this is not a simple question and as usual, statistics analysis can often 'prove' any point you wish to make. Hopefully, CDC has a good grasp on both statistics and public policy.
And speaking of public policy.... Considering using the 'years of life expectancy' as a factor in the decision process makes for exciting press, but lousy political reality.
Since I haven't heard of anyone actually proposing this (beyond stakeholders in the news business and comics on late nite shows) I consider any 'serious disussion' of it sensationalism combined with extremely poor journalism.
Given the extremely low probability of this policy ever being seriously proposed and virtually non-existent probability of it actually being implemented, I believe a responsible journalist would ignore it beyond making fun of anyone spreading rumors.
In the initial reports people of any age with underlying conditions were the among the first to get sick and most likely to die. I am 50 with Asthma from Second Hand Cigarette Smoke, I can't get good medical care for that, now this comes along. Although my age may help with, but my health has been compromised from years of "pump and dump", that's seeing a "Dr.", getting pumped full of drugs, whether they work or not, and left until your next appt, that's if you can get one.
Where does my family sent the bills after I die from Swine Flu, if I am lucky enough to get it? The CDC?