St. Louis Made the Right Call in Giving Vaccine to Retailers
This Post-Dispatch article about the H1N1 vaccine mentions that St. Louis city sent most of its vaccine supply to hospitals and pharmacies. Some doses have been distributed for free in schools and existing public clinics, but the city didn’t open any new free vaccine clinics like the ones in other cities.
It was a smart move on the city’s part. Offering free vaccines is a recipe for shortages. Charging for the cost of administering the vaccine — as pharmacies do — prevents demand from skyrocketing and depleting the vaccine supply. And allowing people to buy the vaccine at their local retail pharmacies is better than forcing everyone to come to a few central clinics. People are used to going to those retailers for prescriptions or other vaccines, so they don’t have to go out of their way to find a clinic they’ve never been to before.
And, while it’s true that taxpayers paid for the H1N1 vaccine, as the people quoted in the article stated, that doesn’t mean that they should all receive it for free. Administering the vaccine would require the city to hire nurses. Taxpayers shouldn’t be made to incur yet another flu-related expense, especially considering that new H1N1 cases have been declining for weeks.