Five at 8 – 10/26/09: How the drug companies blew the flu vaccine

For this week’s Monday Morning Rouser, I tried to find something appropriate from Damn Yankees, but couldn’t. So we’ll go with Guys and Dolls instead:

1) I’ve seen the comparison (with regular flu) numbers, you’ve seen the numbers, but the whole “swine flu is an overblown story” narrative isn’t working for me anymore. Not when healthy 54 year olds are dying. And not with the stories a family member — a paramedic — is telling me about the condition of 17-year-olds he’s hauling to the hospital. So where’s the vaccine? NPR is reporting today that the drug companies simply blew it:

“When they were run, the manufacturers basically found out that the product they had was actually less than they thought they had,” Schuchat said in an interview with NPR. “That wasn’t something we knew a long time ago. That’s relatively recent.”

On top of that, there were glitches in new machines manufacturers installed to put vaccine in vials and put the vials in packages. So there was an unexpected bottleneck in the so-called “fill-and-finish” part of getting vaccine out the door.

2) A study out of the UK is the kind of stuff local TV news has become; you know, dating, marriage, and parenting tips from Frank and Amelia. The secret of a happy marriage? Choose a wife, gentlemen, who is smarter than you and younger than you. If a woman is more than five years older than a man, they are three times more likely to divorce, according to researchers at Bath University.

Another way to have a happy marriage? Don’t have an affair with people at work.

3) Why are Minnesota’s hunting and fishing exploits always front page news? The youngest Minnesota girl to kill a moose? Good for you, kid, but why is that news? The biggest buck, the biggest walleye… we see these stories all the time, usually accompanied by a photo of the carcass and a proud person standing over it.

Also on the “why is it news” page today: If it’s legal to carry a gun in Minnesota, why is it news when people do?

4) “Eight young adults stood outside in the sprinkling rain Tuesday in Colorado, waving signs — not protesting war, a health care bill or taxes — instead they’re on a mission to promote positive thinking, no matter what your political bent,” the Grand Junction Free Press reports. (h/t: Charles Quimby)

Easy for them to say, they were never raised as fans of the Cleveland Indians. But, fine, I’ll give it a shot.

Need inspiration?

5) The news came over the weekend that Lou Jacobi has died. He was one of the great character actors.


A passenger on the flight from San Diego last week that overshot the Twin Cities was quoted as saying that “planes are scary enough as it is,” and that her latest experience “really freaks me out.” Have recent incidents involving air travel made you reluctant to fly?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: ‘Culinary anthropology’ with Andrew Zimmern. He was on with Mary Lucia of The Current out at the State Fair. I wasn’t sure Mary would survive some of the descriptions of what he ate.

Second hour: Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck talks about dining.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – Both hours: Dr. Ruth Lynfield, Minnesota’s top infectious disease expert, joins Midday to discuss the latest news about H1N1 and to take listener questions about the flu.

Talk of the Nation (1 – 3 p.m.) – First hour: The national unemployment rate has swollen to nearly 10 percent despite some positive economic signs. Where will your new job come from?

Second hour: An opinion poll finds almost four out of 10 parents don’t believe the H1N1 swine flu vaccine is safe or necessary for their children. The debate between parents’ rights and public health.

All Things Considered (3 – 6:30 p.m.) – A new program launching in Minneapolis allows people who cannot afford a computer to volunteer for a certain number of hours and then walk away with a free computer, complete with software. The program takes donations of old computer equipment and then refurbishes them. MPR’s Jess Mador will have the story.

Coincidentally, NPR has a story tonight on a similar program, only this one revolves around health care. In Elkhart County, Indiana, hospital and medical center patients can work off their bill through community service. The unemployment rate there is nearly 17 percent.

  • There have been some free compliments guys at the Mall on the U this fall. I was wearing a white shirt and tie and was told I looked very professional.

  • shauns

    Regarding the overblown swine flu:

    A quick look at the MN flu statistics for this week show that it has hit MN and the Metro very hard.

    Anecdotally, friends and their children have been dropping like flies this weekend. Our daughter got sick Saturday night, and when the Dr. prescribed Tamiflu it took 3 tries to find a pharmacy that hadn’t run out. When she couldn’t keep the Tamiflu down and we called the Dr. back, the answering service reported that for the entire practice, callback times were 7-10 *hours* because of the overwhelming number of calls.

    If one more Facebook friend posts a link to some Internet hack about the overblown H1N1, I may have to take it to the streets.

  • Chad

    “The youngest Minnesota girl to kill a moose? Good for you, kid, but why is that news?”

    Because it’s a HUGE part of most Minnesotans’ culture– that’s why. I can see that some ‘city folk’ or transplants from other parts of the country might not get it. A bit offensive actually– talking down about our hunting heritage. “There go those silly hillbillies again!”

    What the headlines read “Youngest Minnesota Girl to Ever Run Marithon” or “Woman Climbs Tallest Mountain” or “Minnesota Woman Ordained as Priest.” It would be really obtuse and culturally insenitive to ask why that would be newsworthy.

    Hunting is a cultural artifact. It’s a huge part of Minnesota’s rich cultural diversity– like mosques, Kwanza, or PRIDE.

  • JackU

    On Lou Jacobi,

    I will always remember Lou Jacobi as one of the All-Star cast of the mid-60’s comedy album “You Don’t Have To Be Jewish”. Jacobi along with Jack Gilford, Betty Walker and others performed some great sketches. The album was produced by the same people who did the “First Family” comedy albums.

  • Mike R

    “Free compliment guy” looks like a fun job. (Or hobby, or whatever).

  • Granny Smith

    On that bit about marrying someone five years younger as opposed to five years older:

    In either case, one of the pair will be 5 years older which, according to the opening statement; would be marriage more likely to end up in divorce. Now that doesn’t make any sense….but considering the source of where it came it certainly does.

    Was my grammar ok on this one?

  • Bob Collins

    As I understand it, the WOMAN should be younger and smarter.

  • Granny Smith

    ah, as it is written it is confusing “choose a wife, gentlemen” perhaps the article should have stated ” choose a wife that is five years younger.”

    I would like to add, too, that if they are going to choose a wife that is five years younger and smarter they should include MENTALLY STABLE and HONEST as well.

  • kennedy

    What about the “smarter” part of the happy marriage story? A smarter wife would make it harder for the husband to get away with cheating, and more importantly he would know that. This would encourage faithfulness which, I suspect, has a very strong correlation to a happy marriage.

  • Granny Smith

    who says its the husband that is the cheater?