Tuesday, November 24, 2009

how to avoid yellow fever.

and no, I'm not referring to a pursuit of Asian women. Ironically, the real virus does not actually occur in Asia...hmmm.

Anyways, so, I am traveling to Panama and Nicaragua in a month (SOO excited!!) and I called travel medicine (after my primary doc turned me down), to see what, if any vaccinations I was required to get before traveling.

I was told a whole laundry list of suggested vaccinations, and one requirement of yellow fever. Apparently I won't be allowed past customs if I do not show proof of this vaccination. When I asked the cost, I was told that they do not accept insurance, and its $75 for the visit and $150 for the vaccine. So I've called around to CVS, other travel medicine offices in Philly, and the cheapest I can find is $180 total.

So then, I was driving to work the other day and heard a story on NPR about a campaign being launched in West Africa for the yellow fever vaccine to be given to 12 million people. So, today in class, I asked, how much will these people (or whoever is assuming the burden of cost for this campaign) paying per vaccination?

I was not given any direct answers. Just that its all relative, to the supply and demand, to the amount being produced at once, to the area of the world its going. Which I understand. But a final guess put the estimates between $3 - $5 for a drug company to produce one vaccination. And, I am all for West Africans getting vaccinated.

But how is it that drug companies in my own country charge me so much more? I suppose I shouldn't gripe, because I'm much wealthier as an American than most African's will ever be. But, I'm seriously going to try to butter up one of the drug reps that comes in to chat up our docs everyday, and see what I can do to get my hands on one of these $3 vaccinations.

Another example of how capitalism is just not all its cracked up to be.

Considering it: Being grateful for the luxury of living in a country where yellow fever isn't a risk.

Unlearning it: Entitlement to cheap vaccinations.

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