Swine flu vaccine outrage

Wall Street companies receive doses of swine flu vaccine. But who got the shots?

By Kim Peterson Nov 6, 2009 12:55PM
Nurse preparing an H1N1 vaccine shot, Credit: © Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesSome parents I know are on a daily hunt for the swine flu vaccine, bombarding pediatric offices and county health departments with calls in search of a dose for their children.

So it's easy to understand the anger brewing over news that some Wall Street firms, including Goldman Sachs (GS) and Citigroup (C), have already received units of the vaccine.

But let's look at this closely for a minute. BusinessWeek delved into the matter, and found that yes, large employers such as Time Warner (TWX) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) have received or are in line for the vaccine. (Watch more about this issue in the video below).

But that doesn't mean that bankers are getting the vaccine before your kids. Health-care workers at those companies are only allowed to give the vaccine to high-risk groups (pregnant women, those under age 24, people living with newborns, and adults with medical conditions).

Goldman asked for 5,300 doses and received 200. And the company says it's only giving the vaccine to people in those high-risk categories.

"This is not out of the ordinary," said a spokeswoman for New York City's health office. "A lot of businesses hold vaccination programs for their employees. These locations are important vehicles for vaccinating people."

Democrats in Congress aren't buying it, and plan to hold a special hearing in two weeks to probe whether corporations are abusing the system.

There are certainly times when Wall Street firms deserve the anger getting directed at them. This is not one of those times.

Now, if these firms were inappropriately giving the vaccine to healthy traders so they could keep raking in the dough throughout flu season, that would be another issue. But we have no evidence of that.

So call off the dogs.

The growing outrage, however, has led Morgan Stanley to donate all of the swine flu vaccines it received to area hospitals. Other Wall Street firms will likely face pressure to do the same.

The Today Show is on the case, and below the video is what others are saying about the matter:

NaturalNews.com: "It's yet another powerful commentary on the crumbling social fabric of America -- a nation that puts its morally bankrupt money slingers as a higher priority than everyone else."

Dallas Morning News: "The stories don't cite any example of the firms breaking the distribution rules or cutting in line. Someone is always going to be first and someone is gong to be last. That's the nature of lines, folks."

The director for the Centers for Infectious Disease Research and Policy: “They’re not going to be giving it to the top bankers. There’s no reason a high-risk person should get it at a public clinic instead of at work.”

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