WASHINGTON — Who should get the first flu vaccine during a worldwide outbreak – the 60-year-old grandmother with a weak heart and lungs or the healthy 4-year-old with decades ahead of her? Government guidelines put the ill grandmother at the head of that line, for now. Younger, healthier people should be moved ahead, argue bioethicists at the National Institutes of Health, raising new issues to consider as federal officials review the nation’s pandemic guidelines. ‘Death seems more tragic when a child or young adult dies than an elderly person – not because the lives of older people are less valuable, but because the younger person has not had the opportunity to live and develop through all stages of life,’ Drs. Ezekiel Emanuel and Alan Wertheimer wrote for Friday’s edition of the journal Science. It’s a different way of weighing the agonizing decision of how to ration scarce vaccine if a super-strain of influenza sparks a worldwide epidemic. If that flu arises, it will take manufacturers months to brew inoculations for everyone. First doses will go to workers in vaccine factories and to people caring for the ill, a Bush administration decision widely shared by health […]

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