Friday, September 17, 2004


There’s something creepy about lining up students at school and giving them all flu shots. But that’s what’s happening at Omaha’s Westside High School in a ‘’partnership’’ with Children’s Hospital.

Far be it from me to say there’s anything wrong with getting flu shots, even though I don’t. I don’t like all I’ve been reading about thimerosol, the common additive in many vaccinations which is mercury-based and linked to autism and so forth. Did you read about those construction workers who played with mercury in Bellevue, and the EPA and everybody went ballistic because it’s so poisonous? And yet it’s in our vaccinations, especially for little kids? Hola! Hello! Hoo boy.

What bugs me, though, about the flu shots in District 66 is that it’s socialized medicine -- a breach of the philosophy of medical care which has shown itself to be the best in the world. I mean individual patients choosing individual doctors and conducting their health-care regimens away from the purview of any governmental unit, including the public schools.

Even though they’re only charging $20 a flu shot, which is cheap, there’s a subsidy there which somewhere, down the road, will be made up somehow. My bet is that Children’s Hospital will be allowed to run a future school-based health clinic at Westside and have access to the enormous income stream that comes from that.

At any rate, the cost savings in individual flu shots can’t begin to make up for what parents lose in this latest transfer of parental say-so and autonomy to the public school bureaucracy.

And it may not be so bleepin’ cheap, either. The anonymous health-care delivery situation, where there’s no relationship between the caregiver and the patient, is the ripest breeding ground for litigation known to modern medicine. So if one of those nurses goofs, or there’s a lot of bad vaccine and kids get sick, or worse, who’s going to get sued? The deep pockets -- Children’s Hospital and the unsuspecting taxpayers of District 66.

School-based health care not only threatens the financial health of taxpayers and the authoritative health of moms and dads. This is just one more example of the raging sickness that has grasped hold of our public schools and is threatening to choke the academic life out of them:

Mission creep.

With ‘’services’’ like the flu shots, schools are trying to be parents. By definition, they cannot be. They are an institution. The more they let their focus creep away from academics, the worse of a job they do on their basic mission, and the worse the kids do on the old 3 R’s.

If there’s a shot that could teach that truth, I’d love to line up the educators for it. Don’t worry, I’d give it to them in their . . . arms.

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