If Swine Flu Is a Test, America Is Failing
States' herky-jerky responses show problems with system
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2009 9:57 AM CDT
A boy in Annaapolis, Md., receives a shot of a trial vaccine in this August file photo.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
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(Newser) – Take a good look at how states are dispensing swine flu shots—if they're dispensing them at all yet—and there's no escaping one conclusion: What a mess. Despite federal guidelines, each state seems to have its own ideas on who should get them first, and when—yet another example of how our "patchwork of a public health care system" is poorly serving the nation's needs, writes Dana Milbank.

"This hasn't mattered much, because the pandemic flu strain, mercifully, has proven to be relatively mild so far," writes Milbank in the Washington Post. "So we can consider this a drill; had this been an actual pandemic, or a biological terrorism attack, we'd all be in deep trouble." What to do? Congress can start with an idea from Henry Waxman to deny states federal money on public health unless they meet minimum standards of competence. It would set up an national accreditation board to enforce them.