Two of Brad DeLong’s commenters point out that I was wrong to say that flu vaccine is covered by the Vaccine Injury Compensation program. VICP covers the vaccines routinely given to children, but not flu vaccine.
An official advisory committee looked at the question in 1996 and decided that the rates of adverse events and litigation were low enough to make VICP coverage unnecessary. Whether that committee was wrong, or whether things have changed since and the threat of litigation has become a factor in limiting flu vaccine production, I don’t know.
The President’s spokesman’s comment is still nonsensical: this year’s shortage didn’t result from the unwillingness of drug companies to make the vaccine. The planned production level was adequate to meet the demand. The shortage resulted from having half of the supply made in a single plant, which turned out to have quality control problems.
Still, I shouldn’t have criticized him for ignoring a nonexistent fact. That’s the danger of blogging outside one’s area of expert knowledge. Caveat lector.