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Swine flu protocol: Children and inmates first

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In the movie The Dark Knight, the Joker conducts a nail-biting sociology experiment by rigging bombs on two ships -- one loaded with ordinary folk, the other transporting prisoners. A detonator for each bomb is then placed in the hands of the opposing camps, who are invited to blow up the other ship first and thus save themselves.

According to this 7 News story, Jefferson County is conducting a similarly explosive little test with the H1N1 virus. The county jail has received 110 doses of swine-flu vaccine for staff and high-risk inmates, even while law-abiding citizens are "desperately waiting" for the scarce vaccine for their own kids, the station reports. And parents are outraged. Grrrrr!

The report makes it sound like inmates are getting a break over the rest of us sniffling slobs. But you have to figure that the decision has less to do with favoring criminals over innocent babes than it does with protection of the staff in the jail's close quarters. If vaccinating a few high-risk cases out of the jail's 1300 inmates prevents a major outbreak, why not?

The argument for taking some preventive measures among the incarcerated becomes more compelling when you consider (as the report doesn't) that a lot of those inmates are short-timers and could be getting out soon. They could be sneezing on you on the 16th Street Mall bus tomorrow. In other words, there's no invincible wall between the population inside and all us good people outside. These are not just ships passing in the night.

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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