Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says a vote may come later today (Thursday) on his amendment that would spend eight-billion dollars to better prepare the nation for an outbreak of avian flu. Harkin says his legislation would step up overseas surveillance, ramp up America’s vaccine production capability, stockpile vaccine and strengthen public health departments at all levels.Harkin says we can’t wait for the administration to come forward with an action plan, as he says we’ve been warned for years that an avian flu pandemic is inevitable. Harkin says Japan has had a plan in place since 1997 while Great Britain and France have enough avian flu vaccine stockpiled to inoculate 25-percent of their populations. He says the U.S. only has enough vaccine for about one-percent of the population. Harkin says “We are woefully unprepared and still without any kind of action plan. America can do better and we must do better. As most experts say that a flu pandemic is not a matter of if but only when. A nightmare scenario, a kind of 21st century black death is by no means far fetched.” Harkin says eight-billion dollars may sound like a lot of money but he says that’s what the U.S. is spending in two months on the war in Iraq.
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