Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Media spin prevents flu vaccines for high-risk prisoners, cost taxpayers' $$$

Headline writers had a field day this week touting the supposedly alarming notion that "Some Texas convicts may get H1N1 vaccines before you." To this I responded first with a yawn, then with a "Duh," then with a "so what?" But I've been surprised how widely the story has been given play, and now the Department of State Health Services says prisoners won't be prioritized for the vaccine.

The MSM spin on this story IMO was just a tad misleading since prisoners weren't being put ahead of everyone, but rather it was proposed that "prisoners who are considered high-risk could get their shots before members of the general public who are not high-risk." Isn't that as it should be, targeting high-risk populations first?

What's more, of all citizens, prisoners are the only ones for whom the state bears a constitutional obligation to provide healthcare. If a flu pandemic hits an enclosed prison unit, it could easily spread very quickly. And who do you think pays then? Not some private insurance company or even a split with the feds like with Medicaid, but the money comes 100% from Texas state coffers. Thus the state has an enormous economic incentive to keep prisoners from contracting the flu.

This seems like a no-brainer, but the spin of "prisoners might get something you don't" turned this into a negative story when really TDCJ was doing the right thing, being proactive and preventing avoidable extra spending on healthcare. Is that realy such a bad idea?

RELATED (10/29): Via Human Rights Examiner, here's an important unintended consequence from failing to inoculate at-risk county jail inmates for swine flu: In Riverside County, CA, the H1N1 virus has hit the jail and is causing trial delays thanks to inmate quarantines. One supposes that in state prisons, too, flu quarantines could impact work programs, trustee functions, and worsen understaffing among front-line corrections officers. The decision not to inoculate high-risk inmates (much less staff) seems foolish and short-sighted.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

"If a flu pandemic hits an enclosed prison unit, it could easily spread very quickly. And who do you think pays then?"

Call me cynical, but my guess is nobody. I think they would just let them die or suffer or both. Not a great loss as far as most people are concerned.

I know this might be a radical thought but I think there is something wrong with a State Health Dept. basing their decisions about "citizens" health on media pressure and public bias?

I wonder what other groups of people they will be "prioritizing" next. Old v young. White v Black. Aids v. cancer. Which groups of high risk populations will they deem worthy to receive the vaccine first?

Anonymous said...

Yet another instance where the Criminal Justice system in Texas was attempting to do the right thing. Heaven forbid that the system in Texas is not as corrupt and merciless as you typically lead your readers to believe.

dirty harry said...

You know, there was a time when federal prisoners were moved to the head of the line for organ transplants, too. Still like that idea?

Boyness said...

Heaven forbid that the system in Texas is not as corrupt and merciless as you typically lead your readers to believe.

10/28/2009 07:43:00 PM
=================================

YES IT IS! Dont be fooled by one attempt to do something right.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Dirty, that's a lie. According to DOJ, "Since the early 1980s, the Bureau's general policy is not to provide organ transplants." Can you prove what you said? Put up or shut up.

7:43, this post is evidence that I give the system credit when they do (or try to do) something right. Who else in the media is defending them on this?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Also, just to mention it, Dirty, the purpose of vaccines is to prevent spread of COMMUNICABLE diseases, while organ transplants benefit nobody but the person who gets one. Not only was your example an insupportable lie, it's not even relevant or applicable. Inmates get out. COs go home. Contractors and trustees enter and leave. Diseases spread without respect to prison walls and the function of public health is to prevent that where possible. Here, it's possible.

gritsfor said...

If you had a child in the prison system you would feel different on these issues. I have a child in; he is not a hardened criminal, he is just plain stupid. You hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe some of the comments in this article. 04:36:00 PM, people are people and just because of a mistake are behind bars does not take that fact away.

Healthcare in TDCJ stinks and for someone who has no idea what goes on, should not even write an article like this! You need to get on your knees and ask the Lord to forgive you and soon.

You and people with the same attitude you have are the reasons people suffer. Just because someone is in prison, that is their punishment, not be abused, treated inhumanely and just thrown away like a dirty tissue.

You need to look in the mirror, you could be the next person who has been misjudged, remember not everyone in prison is guilty!! May God forgive you and change your attitude!!!

Anonymous said...

Just look at all the poor TYC kids that were plea bargained into prison, many that were innocent, but rail-roaded by the system. More "Raped by The State".

Anonymous said...

There is one way to begin to end the corruption from TDCJ and the BPP, "TERM LIMITS". I have been told by a professor of Political Science, if enough people would sign a petition, that would require this option be put on the ballot. There is no other way to get some of the bureaucrats out of the Legislature, both Texas and DC than making them serve a term, gone and cannot run again for any office. Then they all become lobbiest and that would be our next project.

If Grits would start a petition to get a refrendum would any of sign it? Scott, what do you think??

dirty harry said...

Grits blows his liberal cool and says:
"Dirty, that's a lie. According to DOJ, "Since the early 1980s, the Bureau's general policy is not to provide organ transplants." Can you prove what you said? Put up or shut up."

Not only can I prove that prisoners received organ transplants for free, but I have some other interesting tidbits to go along with that. I also have a PayPal account, and I'd love to "put up or shut up." How about you? You seems to have the bunny-sized stones to call me a liar from behind your computer screen, but do you have what it takes to put your money where your mouth is?

Here's the bet:

There is or was a time in this country when felons were allowed organ transplants, and did not have to pay for them. And, in some cases, were given priority over honest citizens. These medical practices were allowed by the Supreme Court, and have supporting case rulings. I can name the ruling(s), and cite the case(s).

Talk is cheap, Grits. Let's see what you got to back it up.

dirty harry said...

By the way, Grits, as far as your other drivel trying to nitpick the differences between vaccinations and transplants, they both fall under the issue of healthcare for the incarcerated. The issue is whether or not they deserve the same healthcare as the average citizen. And, that issue has already been decided.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

See Dirty, you've already backtracked when asked to put up or shut up. You earlier claimed "federal prisoners were moved to the head of the line for organ transplants." Now you think you'd win a wager if at some point in the past federal inmates got them at all and didn't pay for them. Nobody denied that may have happened many decades ago, but the moved to the head of the line stuff is BS you just made up. If you can prove otherwise, do so.

As for the difference between transplants and inoculations, pandemics are different from individualized, non-communicable illnesses. If you don't understand why, it's a waste of my time trying to educate you.

dirty harry said...

I didn't backtrack anything. Here's the bet:

There is or was a time in this country when INCARCERATED felons were allowed organ transplants, and did not have to pay for them. And, in some cases, WERE GIVEN PRIORITY OVER LAW-ABIDING CITIZENS.

C'mon Grits, Don't flatter yourself. Talk is cheap. Grow a pair. If you want me to do your homework for you, then it will cost you. I don't care what some flunky at the DOJ told you. Put up, or shut up.

And, once again, whether it's an innoculation, a transplant, or an appendectomy, it all falls under the heading of "medically necessary" for a prisoner. Do yourself a favor and look it up.

Scott D said...

Even if you are the type who thinks that prisoners are less than human, H1N1 vaccinations make sense for this population as sick inmates will expose prison employees to their illnesses. It's hard enough to attract good people to work in corrections now you want them to risk their health unnecessarily too?

Prisoners are people too, rather then let politics determine their priority for vaccinations, we ought to let the medical professionals determine who should get vaccinations and in what order. Sound science should trump emotional outbursts.

Boyness said...

Rick Perry leaked this story so he could be "tough on crime" and let the inmates suffer.

Anonymous said...

Haven't you noticed that anything written about "prisoners" or an individual who did something wrong turns into hate mongering? For instance ABC featured a story on Anthony Sowell who spent 15 yrs in prison for rape. They found 6 bodies in his home and he has obviously become a serial killer in addition to a rapist. If you read the comment section many people wrote that all " sex offenders" need life in prison to protect law abiding citizens. Bad logic but this bad logic spreads like wild fire such as the h1n1 vaccine announcement. We allknow that prison's are crowded, visitation limited and a family member could easily bring in the flu to a loved one behind bars and it would spread like dry grass in california during a dry lightening storm. Such hatemongering would have ignorant people think that by acting on our feelings of hate for one individual and treating all individuals as if they are psycopaths, society would be safe. Not all sex offenders turn into serial killers, but the commentators would have us believe they do. I'm really tired of the hate mongering against people in prison.

Jennie said...

In such a closed confinement so many are at risk for illness. By offering inmates the vaccine you help every person who works there along with their families. And yes it does say the state money. Between sick leave, staff shortages and medical bills it will save money.

I think that anyone in a high risk group should be offered the shot regardless of where or who they are. I am in a high risk group. I appreciate anyone who thankfully is proactive and gets a shot.

Think about it. An inmate gets ill, guards must help that inmate. Guards take the "bug" home and pass to their family. Their children go to school with mine. Mine bring it home to me. As an asthmatic I am then very ill and more than likely go to ICU. Or the spouse of a facility worker works at WalMart. How many can they infect?

Get real. It doesn't matter who or where - just give the shot - I don't want to be sick.

Anonymous said...

dirty harry said...
You know, there was a time when federal prisoners were moved to the head of the line for organ transplants, too. Still like that idea?

10/28/2009 10:55:00 PM


"Since the early 1980s, the Bureau's general policy is not to provide organ transplants. The Medical Director may make an exception to this rule, if the medical or other facts of a particular inmate's case so warrant. "
http://www.bop.gov/news/press/press_releases/ipaorg.jsp

calm down chicken little, the sky is not falling.

Anonymous said...

dirty harry nonsense aside, the flu cannot distinguish between the "good" and the "bad", the wrongly convicted, the ax murderer, the young kid who got in trouble and will be released in a few weeks, having paid for his crime. the flu cannot distinguish between the prisoner, the guard, the medic, or the visitors. To call off vaccinations will endanger the lives of many, indiscriminantly, who have contact with those not allowed to have it.

I believe the US Supreme Court has said that inmates are entitled to medical treatment. I believe this vaccine should be made available to the inmates that fall into the same high risk category as the general population. It just makes sense. Their punishment is to be incarcerated, not to be made sick. Or did we not leave the dark ages behind yet after all.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if prisoners were used as guinea pigs when organ transplants were a new, experimental medical option. I could see prisoners being moved to the front of the line for organ transplants since they are seen as inhuman and expendable.