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The swine flu vaccine

October 9, 2009 1:47:51 PM PDT
I've spent some time this week talking to doctors about the swine flu vaccine. Not one of them has whispered any concern about people being "guinea pigs" for a serum that hasn't been fully tested or vetted.

In fact they say the H1N1 vaccine went through the same production and inspection process that the seasonal flu vaccine goes through every year.

And the ramifications of not getting the vaccine, they say, are far greater than any reaction might be.

There was meaning to my inquisitions: I, like other parents, am weighing all the benefits of getting my kids the swine flu vaccine. They've been getting the seasonal flu vaccine for years. Now the hard part will be finding the H1N1 shot.

We're supposed to get 8 million doses for New York City in the next couple of months; but as of today, no doctor I know has them. And perhaps worse, they're also running short of seasonal flu vaccines, thanks to your neighborhood chain-store pharmacy. The big chains have bought huge amounts and are widely advertising the $25 shots.

All this is prelude to the CDC's rather stunning announcement today that 19 kids (under age 18) died this week from the swine flu. The flu - and most of it is the H1N1 strain - is widespread, in 37 states, and 76 pediatric deaths since the virus first appeared in April. It also means that 25% of the pediatric deaths happened this week.

Is the pandemic that's been predicted now arriving? Hard to say, until we're in the middle of it.

One fascinating part of the CDC announcement was that health officials took exception to the notion that somehow places like New York City, which may have had 800,000 cases of swine flu last spring, were now "immune."

"It would just be wonderful if New York City was not at risk - but it is way too early to know" if that is the case, said one CDC official.

So what's the public tendency these days? And what's the supply locally? We're exploring those questions, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, we'll have the latest on the Mayoral race in New York City. And what a word play tonight, involving the "endorsement" of Democrat Bill Thompson by Pres. Obama.

We've made much out of Mr. Obama's viewing this race from afar, and seeming to intentionally keep his distance. After the coverage, it seems, the White House has tried to put it to rest.

Today, the President's spokesman, Robert Gibbs, endorsed Thompson, although it was a little bit through the back door. Said Gibbs: "As the leader of the Democratic Party, he supports the Democratic nominee."''

Not exactly glowing, but also not an endorsement of the Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Independent Michael Bloomberg.

But Thompson was quick to seize upon the opportunity. "It is a point of personal pride to receive this endorsement since I made my final decision to run for mayor of this great city while waiting on line to vote for President Obama."

Hey, politics is all about seizing the moment - and Mr. Thompson today clearly taking advantage of the endorsement, taking it whatever way he could, even if it didn't come directly from the President's lips, and even if the White House never mentioned Thompson by name.

Ah, politics.

Speaking of Mr. Obama, what a great honor for him - receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. And what an apparent slap at his predecessor. The Nobel Committee, making much of Obama's attempts to re-invent diplomacy as part of U.S. foreign policy, and for his lead-the-charge efforts for nuclear disarmament.

It's a surprise award, given that Mr. Obama has been in office only since January and the nomination deadline was Feb. 1.

Someone nominated the President after only 10 or so days in office?

It took the President's critics just about three nanoseconds to seize on that; they blasted the award as being about Mr. Obama's star power rather than his accomplishments.

Also at 11, Tappy Phillips has the story of a church, hoping to raise some money for its college scholarship fund. The top prize: A Caribbean vacation. But then the travel agent stiffed the church. Divine intervention was out; the only alternative was to call Tappy, and get 7 On Your Side.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's weekend AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports, including highlights from game two of the Yankees-Twins playoff game. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11, right after 20/20's exclusive interview with Anthony Marshall, son of the late Brooke Astor, who yesterday was convicted of 14 counts of swindling his mother's fortune.

One more note: I'll be on vacation next week. "Behind The News" will resume on Oct. 19.

BILL RITTER


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