H1N1 Flu Vaccine Shortage: All Flu Vaccines In Short Supply! Grrr.

by The Smarter Wallet on October 28, 2009

With the turn of the seasons, we’re finally getting colder weather, and so far, it’s been a pleasant change. What’s not so pleasant is that I’m having trouble finding the flu vaccine in our neighborhood. I’ve spent quite some time trying to track this elusive vaccine down but as the news channels have been suggesting over the past few weeks, it’s in extremely short supply. I’ve called grocery store pharmacies (Walgreen’s, Safeway, etc), hospitals, clinics and the pediatrician’s office with no luck, and I continue to do so on a regular basis. Still, no vaccine.

I care about getting this vaccine because:

  • I have young kids at home, one being asthmatic.
  • I am a hypochondriac.
  • I wouldn’t want to contribute to a swine flu pandemic. Especially since it can’t be good for the economy 😉 .
  • I have a form of autoimmunity, an unpredictable condition that may or may not lead to complications if I contract an infection. Consequences remain to be seen.
H1N1 flu
Image from Shot Nurse

Of course, this is all but supply and demand. Now that the media has stirred the population into a semi-anxious state about the flu and its numerous variants, you won’t be finding this vaccine that easily, although you can luck out (as a few friends of mine at different counties have).

It’s frustrating though. Media hype has killed the supply by generating huge demand, at least, at this time. We’ve all been told to hang in there, to be patient. Does it *really* take this long to meet this kind of anticipated demand for something that we’ve known about for a while now? Here’s a snapshot of our vaccine status here in the San Francisco Bay Area, along with this great public rant disguised as a news article, about the inequity of the flu vaccine distribution occurring around the nation:

swine flu vaccine shortage

In the meantime, I’ll stick to these flu prevention tips to try to avoid being unlucky this year.

Now how about we check out some interesting reads in the financial front?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mogden October 28, 2009 at 11:12 pm

The problem is that we aren’t letting supply and demand balance. While the vaccine is in limited supply, the price should go up. That way, only people that are the most in need, or most fearful, will be willing to pay the price.

By artificially setting the price low, we are causing a significant amount of waste. Firstly, people are having to go through hassles to get the vaccine (calling frequently, standing in line, etc.). Secondly, the people who luck into getting the vaccine are not the people who need it the most.

What should happen is that when the vaccine first comes out, the price should be very high. Once supplies loosen, the price should come down. Just like a regular good.

2 The Smarter Wallet October 29, 2009 at 11:13 am

When it comes to health care, you’re not going to get anyone to fiddle with costs and prices in the way that makes rational and logical sense. As it is, there’s the ongoing health care debate that whips everyone up in a frenzy. I think it makes sense to raise the price of anything to control supply and demand, but it sure won’t work in a society that will view such price manipulations in the areas of health and life care, as discriminatory.

3 Mogden October 29, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Until we learn that prices are our friends, by transmitting information about scarcity and value, we will continue to suffer. Central planning, as we see here with vaccine distribution, does not work efficiently.

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