First off, if you care about the presidential election, dailykos.com is a great read.http://www.dailykos.com/story/2004/10/16/111943/42
The flu shot shortage could well blow up into the issue that boots W from the oval office. Now, influenza doesn't kill all that many people anymore - it has been widely misreported that over 20,000 people die of the flu each year, but that is a misreading of the CDC's statistics that lump Pneumonia and Influenza together. I'm having a hard time finding the real numbers, but it looks like it's more like under 1000 each year. Even so, it's hard to say what the death rate might be if no one got a flu shot - in 1918 over 675,000 people died of influenza, though that's the worst it's been in a very long time.
But all those voting seniors are worried. And many of them are old enough that their parents lived through the 1918 epidemic, and a lot of them may have lived through it themselves, or lost family members to it. I've been reading of seniors in their 80s having to stand in line for hours to get a shot, when they can even get one. And the conventional wisdom now is that if you're old you have to get a shot to protect yourself, or you could die, so they all want one.
There was a mini-epidemic of influenza last year, and a minor shortage of vaccine. Bush has messed this up big time, as his administration has done nothing to correct the problems that emerged last year. Why is most of our vaccine produced offshore? Isn't it ironic that his proposed solution is to ask for vaccine from Canada? Most telling is the fact that other nations with surplus aren't coming forward to offer us vaccine. Bush has pissed off the world and now no one will stand with the USA when we need their help.
It's October. Surprise.