When Government Shines

“Time To Get Your Flu Shot”, a news item, caught my eye on the internet today.  Huh?  Seems too early, but I have noticed drug-store signs about vaccinations around town

Portrait of Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), Chemist

Louis Pasteur, by Smithsonian Institution via Flickr

lately.  The AP item explains that the vaccine is stronger and more plentiful this year.  There is a special strength for those over 65 because of their weaker immune systems and the shot also covers the H1N1.  The CDC says the shot will last all winter, so it’s OK to get it now.  If this has been in the Globe lately, I missed it.  If you did too, this is your wakeup call.

Wikipedia, describing “DNA Vaccination” says:

Vaccines are among the greatest achievements of modern medicine – in industrial nations, they have eliminated naturally-occurring cases of smallpox, and nearly eliminated polio, while other diseases, such as typhus, rotavirus, hepatitis A and B and others are well controlled.

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Smallpox, via Wikipedia

You will note in the reference that “third-generation” vaccines, called DNA vaccines, are now being pursued and have outstanding potential to make life healthier for everyone.  In my opinion the main obstacle to this kind of progress is superstition, which seems to have only grown with the internet.  As an anodyne I recommend two things.  Either deal with trusted sources or check out information on other trusted sites such as Snopes.com.  I have always found Snopes, a home-grown operation that blossomed, to be outstanding and thorough.

Well, this is not only good news but it helps restore my faith in government function.  As visitors to my blog will know, I am a fan of limited government, but in this case I have to admire Uncle Sam and the CDC.  Vaccines are not a big profit item for the drug companies and public paranoia (and the threat of lawsuits) even further discourages the business, so, unlike nation-building, this is prime territory for government activity.

Another government effort also deserves mention here, IMO, and that is the wonderful web site maintained by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.  It is titled Medline Plus.  This is a thoroughly-vetted and reliable source of information on all aspects of health, and that includes complete information on drugs and supplements.  And it is written for the layman in understandable English, as non-technical as possible.

When I was a boy I learned there was such a thing as a “Merck Manual” that contained

Rembrandt turns an autopsy into a masterpiece:...

Anatomy Lesson . . ., Rembrandt, via Wikipedia

summaries of all manner of medical conditions, treatments and drugs.  I was told that it wasn’t available to the public but only to medical professionals.  Apparently the public wasn’t trusted to use the information wisely.  (In some cases, probably true.)  Now, all that and more is available not just to Americans but to the whole world on-line.  If that isn’t a service to all mankind, I don’t know what is!  Now all we need is a well-educated populace who can understand plain English and place what they read in context, but that is a different topic .

Now, speaking of health matters, if we could just get government out of the absurd

Genome Research

Image via Wikipedia

business of patenting genes and genomes and into the business of facilitating world access to modern drugs (and vaccines), we really would be into a new age of man.  (These are MY genes, dammit – keep your hands OFF!)  Thanks to Duane Graham, the Erstwhile Conservative, I was recently made aware of a man who has a scheme for doing just that.  His name is Thomas Pogge and his idea is described in “The Price Of A Cure”.  It could truly change the world.

About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Democratic.
This entry was posted in Ethics / Morality, Government size, Health, Medicine, Science / Engineering. Bookmark the permalink.

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