It should come as no surprise that those at the top of the food chain get preferential treatment on all levels. But this still stinks to high heaven. Employees of the Goldman, the Fed, Citigroup, and other banks are getting H1N1 vaccine allotments out of proportion to what can be justified from a public health standpoint. In particular, Goldman has gotten more than Lenox HIll hospital, which needs it not just for the sick but more important, for workers (not only does the public need to keep front-line health care workers in as good shape as possible, but if they get the infection, they become disease vectors fast, given the number of people they see).
Then again, banks have become parasitic, so why should we expect anything different? And although Business Week broke the story, it did it press release style:
To the list of hundreds of schools, hospitals, and community health centers that have received limited allocations of the H1N1 swine flu vaccine, you can now add some of New York’s largest employers. In the past week or so 13 companies, including Citigroup (C) and Goldman Sachs (GS), have begun receiving small quantities of the vaccine, according to city health authorities.
Citigroup has been supplied with 1,200 units and Goldman with 200, says Jessica Scaperotti, press secretary for the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene. The agency has so far approved orders by 29 employers—including 16 that have yet to receive any vaccine—after they were cleared by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). Big employers that have received or are scheduled to receive vaccine so far include Time Warner (TWX), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Memorial Sloan-Kettering, New York Presbyterian Healthcare System, and New York University.
Health-care workers at those employers are bound by the CDC to distribute the vaccine only to populations deemed to be at high risk of developing serious complications from swine flu: pregnant women, children and young people aged 6 months to 24 years, people who live with or provide care for infants under 6 months (who cannot be vaccinated), people aged 24 to 64 with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for flu-related complications, and health-care workers and emergency medical personnel.
Yves here. Welcome to the class system in action. If you don’t work for a big, influential company, go to the back of the queue. Why should companies be the nexus of distribution for vaccines? I guarantee no Goldman MD gets much of his routine medical treatment from the GS health workers on staff (emergencies or a fast diagnostic like a strep test are different). But if you work for a less privileged employer or are self-employed or between jobs, tough luck, go to the back of the queue, you have to try to get yours (assuming you can) from vaccination centers in New York City. How easy do you think that will be? The difficulty and queuing are certain to be much worse than for any of the big financial players.
And please, it strains credulity to think that someone on the payroll at these companies won’t bend to pressure to make allotments at the margin according to who is most powerful. Do you think if Lloyd Blankfein or another member of the management committee was in a risk category that he would be denied it, assuming the firm did not have enough to go around? (and that is likely). Now given the brouhaha, Goldman may bend over backwards not to abuse this overmuch now that there is media pushback. But this serves to illustrate how the system has been suborned on just about every front. To wit, Goldman is getting 200 doses of the vaccine, the same number as Lenox Hill Hospital.