Cost of a dose of influenza vaccine per the CDC ranges from $10.70 to $13.00 for the standard vaccine and $19.95 for FluMist nasal vaccine. 75 cents of that is a federal excise tax. (Does it seem wise to put an excise tax on something that is supposedly such an urgent matter of national interest?)
There are in the neighborhood of 300 million people in the country. Give everyone of them a voucher for $10 towards one vaccination against the avian flu. Eliminate the 75 cent excise tax so that the $10 will be sufficient to buy the shot and if someone wants the nasal, they can pay the difference. Shake, stir and see how long $3 billion takes to incentivize the pharmaceutical industry into producing a vaccine against avian flu. There, I just saved us $4 billion. $4 billion here, $4 billion there, eventually we might save some real money.
I realize that’s overly simplistic since this plan is intended to deal with other issues than just a single strain of virus. But is spending $583 million to help state and local government’s prepare emergency plans a good idea? Maybe, but only if we exempt Louisiana and New Orleans, since they’ve proven they don’t read them after the federal government pays for them.
Certainly the first and easiest thing that ought to be looked at is eliminating an excise tax ranging from 75 cents a dose to $3.75/dose on vaccinations for everything from influenza to diptheria. It’s amazing when you start looking at any problem how much the problem is the government agencies that are supposed to solve it.
The multibillion-dollar flu plan is designed to bolster the nation’s response to a sweeping outbreak that would prove far more lethal than seasonal influenza. The largest share of the money, $2.8 billion, would be allocated to developing vaccines and new technologies to speed production, a process that now takes months and requires the use of millions of chicken eggs in which vaccines are produced.