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Tommy Thompson thinks old folks shouldn’t stand in lines waiting for the vaccine. Well, Congress doesn’t have to. Susan Walsh, AP

The WP reveals that — surprise — flu vaccines are plentiful in the Capitol, and available to all. This of course, is in conflict with what both the President and Tommy Thompson advised the public. Guess we’re not special

“While many Americans search in vain for flu shots, members and employees of Congress are able to obtain them quickly and at no charge from the Capitol’s attending physician, who has urged all 535 lawmakers to get the vaccines even if they are young and healthy.

The physician’s office has dispensed nearly 2,000 flu shots this fall, and doses remained available yesterday. That is a steep drop from last year’s 9,000 shots, a spokesman for attending physician John F. Eisold said, because many congressional employees have voluntarily abided by federal guidelines that call for this season’s limited supply to go mainly to the elderly, the very young, pregnant women, long-term-care patients and people with chronic illnesses.

But people of all ages who are credentialed to work in the Capitol can get a shot by saying they meet the guidelines, with no further questions asked, said the spokesman, who cited office policy in demanding anonymity.

…Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.), a heart surgeon, sent letters urging his 99 colleagues to get the shots because they mingle and shake hands with so many people, his spokeswoman, Amy Call, said. She said she did not know how many senators have taken his advice.

…Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson reiterated the Bush administration’s guidelines at a news conference yesterday afternoon at his department’s headquarters at the foot of Capitol Hill.

What we are telling people is: If you are not in a priority category, do not get the shot,” he said. “If you are one of the doctors who got vaccine in the early shipments, please do not give it to people who are not in one of the classifications I have just spelled out.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding