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Focus on a vaccine, not the military

October 06, 2005

On Tuesday, President Bush tried to reassure us by saying he will use the military to enforce a quarantine to prevent the spread of an avian influenza pandemic. I would much rather hear from our president that the federal government will give all the necessary economic support to produce as rapidly as possible a vaccine for the H5N1 (avian) influenza virus. This is the only effective way to prevent a pandemic: a mass vaccination as was done against polio.

A Centers for Disease Control director recently said that a vaccine against the avian influenza virus is going to be available but there are not sufficient funds to mass-produce it soon enough. A sad commentary on the waste of money on an ill-conceived war in Iraq. In 1918, more than 20 million people died from an influenza pandemic. A military enforcement of a quarantine will not really be effective control.

RON A. BLANCHETTE MD

Ventura

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