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Fines, Jails Used to Enforce Flu Shot Rules--Quarantine Spin Begins for "Flu"

Hang on to your hats, folks! The trail balloons are going up for quarantine! Will we line up like good citizens?
Top Stories - AP

Fines, Jail Used to Enforce Flu Shot Rules

By AMY F. BAILEY, Associated Press Writer

LANSING, Mich. - Thinking of trying to wheedle a flu shot from your doctor even though you're not at high-risk for flu complications? Forget about it in Michigan. Or Washington, D.C. Or Massachusetts.

As the vaccine shortage hits home and long lines queue around the supermarket, a handful of states and the nation's capital are threatening doctors and nurses with fines or even jail if they give flu shots to healthy, low-risk people.

Health officials downplay the punishment and say that most health care workers are following the guidelines.

"But there are people who are unsure and there are consumers who are not necessarily being as civic-minded as we would like. ... This just provides us with some backup," said Janet Olszewski, Michigan's director of community health, who issued the order Thursday.

There are about 3.4 million people in Michigan considered a priority for a flu shot this fall primarily the elderly, children 6-23 months, the chronically ill, pregnant women and certain health care workers. But the state only has about 2 million doses, Olszewski told The Associated Press.

Health care violators in Michigan face a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $200 fine if convicted, the health director said.

At least four other states Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin and Washington, D.C., have issued similar orders with varying penalties.

"It's a strong step," agreed Dr. Gregg Pane, acting director of the District of Columbia Department of Health, whose order took effect Friday.

In Washington, violators could be fined up to $1,000, and Pane said the health department would investigate complaints. In Wisconsin, penalties include up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. In Massachusetts, the penalty is a $200 fine per infraction and six months in jail.

"It's not rationing," said Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Christine Ferguson. "It's being rational about how to reduce the number of deaths that could result from a serious flu season."

The doctor for a Boston nursing home called the state order controlling what the private sector can do with its own medicine "unprecedented." It makes it difficult for public flu shot clinics to continue, since many can't verify a "high risk" status for patients, said Dr. John Foster. But he said the action was needed.

"I think it is a public health crisis," said Foster, medical director for the North End Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. "They can't wait and give vaccines out to people who shouldn't get it."

The nation is only getting about half the 100 million flu shots it had expected for the current flu season. One of two primary vaccine suppliers, Chiron Corp., is barred from shipping its vaccine from a British factory because of contamination problems.

The United States has no stockpile of vaccine and no authority to ration shots, a job that is left to the states, which have their own laws on public health emergencies.

Some states like Oregon and New Mexico have only civil penalties to enforce their orders that flu shots be given only to high-risk patients. In those states, fines and sanctions from medical licensing boards are possible.

Even so, "we are taking it very seriously," Lorraine Duncan, Oregon's immunization program manager, said Friday. "We are asking people to report an incident and we will investigate each one."

Since Oregon's order took effect a week ago, two complaints of healthy people getting shots have been checked out. But Duncan said there was no wrongdoing and offered an example: A 42-year-old getting a flu shot might look perfectly healthy to an outsider, but could have a chronic illness or might be a health care provider.

California's health chief has also ordered flu shots be reserved only for those at high-risk, but that state has even less authority.

"The real value of the order is this: When a provider has a relationship with a patient who is demanding a flu shot, the provider can point to the order...said health services spokesman Ken August. "It emphasizes the seriousness of the situation, not just in California, but nationwide."


EDS: AP writers Jay Lindsay in Boston, Heather Greenfield in Washington, Julia Silverman in Portland, Ore., and Jennifer Coleman in Sacramento, Calif., contributed to this report.
Ironic 15.Oct.2004 17:55

Stupid Gov

Dear Crazy Gov.,

As you tax the sales of cigs and Drinks which clearly can have health affects you attack those

who are trying to get a flue shot as if they are damaging the frail and the old. You arrest or

fine and sieze the property of folks who may are trying to medicate themselves with pot or what not.

You criminalize human behaviour and give often time solutions which cause more harm to the community

than the criminal acts themselves. You bomb the shit out of people with little guidance and no

accountability. Its ironic, that is all.

ps drive carefully

fuck the flu shot! 15.Oct.2004 18:30


these vaccines are dangerous, esp. to those with a delicate immunity (elderly, babies). those who cannot get the damn shot can count their lucky stars*!

Woman dies of exposure on Safeway parking lot, in que for flu shot 15.Oct.2004 23:28

Guardian UK--Why are Safeway and Costco giving flu shots??

Calif. Woman Dies After Wait for Flu Shot

Saturday October 16, 2004

LAFAYETTE, Calif. (AP) - A 79-year-old woman who stood in line outside a supermarket for more than five hours waiting for a flu shot collapsed and later died, the woman's daughter said.

Marie Franklin stood with her husband and hundreds of other seniors outside a Safeway supermarket Wednesday but collapsed when she left the line to seek shade, striking her head, said Ginni Poulos, Franklin's daughter.

Franklin died from her injuries on Thursday, according to the country coroner's office.

``She was standing the entire time, with nowhere to sit and no shade,'' Poulos said.

Teena Massingill, a spokeswoman for Safeway, said employees offered chairs, snacks and water for people waiting in line. She said employees handed out numbers in the early afternoon, sending home those unable to get one of the 500 shots available.

The nation's limited supply of flu vaccine has led to long lines at points where vaccinations are being distributed. Most of those in line are elderly or young children - those most susceptible to influenza.

Poulos said problems arose because organizers did not expect so many people to seek flu shots. ``I know they were just caught off guard, and it wasn't their fault,'' she said.

In nearby Concord, police reported that two women, ages 76 and 83, were hospitalized Thursday after collapsing outside a store while waiting in a long line for the vaccine, possibly from heat exhaustion.

Lafayette is located just east of Berkeley in northern California

uhh 16.Oct.2004 01:03


I couldn't find the word quarantine anywhere in the article. Mind explaining what the hell you're talking about?

This is another trial balloon 16.Oct.2004 14:44

typhoid mary, to chlamydia(love your name!)

The Feds aren't talking quarantinejust yet, but they're working toward it with the help of "perception management" experts. Soon we'll be demanding quarantine; the powers-that-be make it feel like it's our idea.

Think about it. Until about four years ago, flu vaccine was easily available through doctor's offices. It was affordable. I recommended it to my patients. We gave a lot of flu shots. Then the supply was restricted, and the only sources for it were corporations which dispense it through big-box stores like Costco, Safeway, Walmart. Their employees give the vaccines,and the corporations, like fluvaccine.com, get the money for it, I guess. Doctor's offices are now priced out of the flu vaccine game, since it costs more to buy it and give it than what the office is reimbursed for. I started getting very suspicious about the flu vaccine promo. I quit recommending them. Now, manufacture of the vaccine is very restricted, and there are no US manufacturers. Avian flu, which has developed as a result of filthy industrialized animal manufacturing, is being promoted as the next terrible scourge for humans, and another reason that the spin now screams that EVERYONE, including infants(who were not immunized for flu until a couple of years ago), must have the flu vaccine, whch has no impact on avian flu at all, and which, after all, is not availble, really scarce, and OMG, isn't this totally scary, we're ALL GOING TO DIE. A live flu vaccine was introduced last year, and heavily promoted to physicians(Tamiflu, which is snorted up the nose). Live flu vaccine is potentially very dangerous,in that influenza is very contagious. Factor in the recent discovery of the genome for the 1918 flu virus that killed millions in a world-wide epidemic. It would be easy to manufacture a fake flu crisis, or develop a real flu epidemic, with a bit of access to a supply of Tamiflu(real easy)or, less easy but doable, CDC lab.

What is happening here? Do you trust the government?

The media is spinning the fear of flu relentessly, and people are lining up for hours on big-box parking lots waiting for their life-saving fix, collapsing of exposure on the asphalt. Doctors are being threatened with fines and prison if they dare immunize people who are not "high-risk"(a term that has been successfully imbedded into our language at every level). People stream into our office pleading for notes to take to Safeway stating they are "high-risk" so they can get that flu shot.

Sounds like a big-time set up to me. But maybe I've just been in the medicine biz too long.

The Hype is Ridiculous 16.Oct.2004 20:41


I tend to agree with Typhoid Mary. I've noticed the change as well. Every year someone asks me if I am getting the flu shot and every year I say, "No." Friends who were innoculated still get colds and what seems like the flu. There's more than one thing going around and the "big flu" they always hype as a "killer" never hits with the intensity we are warned about. And you hear an awful lot about side effects and complications.

We got along fine for years without flu shots. I don't trust them and I would think that the sorts of people who the government is pushing to get the shots - the elderly and infants - have immune systems even less able than most to deal with the vaccine. It seems as though they would be safer practicing cleanliness and using other ways to avoid contracting the flu, or simply dealing with it in a sensible way if they come down with it, rather than exposing themselves to crowds and extreme weather waiting for the shot, and the possible reactions to the vaccine.

We run titers on our pets as well and do not vaccinate them every year (except for rabies, which we are legally obliged to do). It's better for them.

I think that it is insane that no flu vaccines are made in this country anymore, as well.

WAITING IN LINES?? 23.Oct.2004 08:11


I think it more than a little suspicious that they have people waiting in lines for something that no-one needed 15 years ago.I have never had a flu shot and have just as much success avoiding the illness as the people I know who have had the shot.In fact,Ive known several people who shortly after being injected w/the "vaccine"have become violently ill w/the worst case of flu in their life. the "vaccine"is formulated to protect against the strains that the CDC believes to be most widespread so a person who gets the flu shot could actually be weakening their immune response to other strains.The most disturbing aspect of the make believe death-flu epidemic is this-THEY tell us we need something,WE believe it,THEY say that there isnt enough,WE line up begging for it.What else will they tell us we need(for our health and saftey of course)WHAT ELSE WILL WE LINE UP FOR??!?!!digital angel???