Vaccine manufacturers were pressed into action. Contracts were signed directing these companies to produce what was scientifically and materially necessary to make large quantities of H7N9 vaccine. In turn, the manufacturers began work with the expectation that orders for mass production were not only medically prudent, but that they were forthcoming.
Indeed, funds for vaccine production are guaranteed through the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act that extends HHS’s mandate to support medical countermeasures for pandemic threats for possible inclusion in the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile.
Then bureaucracy happened. Formal orders from HHS to the vaccine companies, green-lighting further production of the vaccine, have stalled. My sources tell me these orders were supposed to have been received weeks ago.
So, to be clear, Congress has allocated the money, HHS’s own public health experts say it’s warranted, production is ready — but still there has been no official order to proceed. Equally concerning, it takes at minimum 60 days to produce quantities that would only begin to satisfy national demand should there an outbreak.
Sure, there’s a chance the H7N9 virus simply fades away, but there’s also a chance it won’t. You don’t gamble with the health of a nation. Preparedness is what the CDC is for.
If HHS continues to inexplicably hold up payment, the vaccines meant for us may be sold elsewhere. We will be left vulnerable to something the CDC considers a serious threat.
What’s disturbing about all of this is if the bureaucracy in HHS can’t even get its act together to pay for one type of vaccine it ordered to protect our health, how well do you think it will do with administering countless decisions daily pertaining to the health care of 330 million Americans.
Remember Sarah Murnaghan? She is the 11 year old girl with severe cystic fibrosis who needed a lung transplant to survive. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of HHS, refused to sign a waiver allowing Sarah to bypass age restrictions for children to receive adult transplant organs, which essentially was a death sentence. Her family, her doctor and the public sided with Sarah, the bureaucracy did not, and that was that. Thankfully for the Murnaghan family, a federal judge ordered the arbitrary federal age restrictions on adult to children transplants be waived. Sarah got her lungs and is doing well.
Is HHS so overwhelmed by the failure of the healthcare.gov website that they cannot fulfill a relatively straightforward vaccine order? It makes you wonder how well they will do administering health care decisions impacting all of us. Will we be stuck in the bureaucratic web of HHS? Let’s pray not.