Indiana legislation aims to inform older Hoosiers of flu dangers

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The flu has killed more than 100 people right here in Central Indiana.

One state lawmaker said he wants to put a stop to that and he has a bill aiming at what he calls some of the state’s most vulnerable.

State Rep. Ron Bacon, a Republican from Chandler, said his bill targets older Hoosiers, primarily people living in assisted living or retirement homes.

He said his bill would require those kinds of places to give residents information about the flu and flu vaccines, but not require them to get flu shots. That, he said, would be up to the individual to decide.

It’s basically to explain the benefits of vaccines, any reactions and who shouldn’t get vaccinated.

“Seniors are at the highest risk because their immune systems are compromised as they get older,” Bacon said. “In skilled-care and nursing homes, we do mandate that they get the vaccine, so that it doesn’t go through.”

The Indiana For Medical Freedom group’s co-founder, Erica Comerford, sent 24-Hour News 8 this statement:

“HB (House Bill) 1058 is an unnecessary bill with lots of opposition in the House (narrowly passed 51 to 45). The bill mandates the use of taxpayer dollars to advertise a liability-free, for-profit vaccine. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, this year’s flu vaccine is less than 10% effective, meaning it fails 90% of the time. It is also the most dangerous vaccine, accounting for 53% of all vaccine injury and death payouts in Vaccine Court (almost $2 Billion for the flu vaccine alone). Senator (Ed) Charbonneau and the bill’s author, Representative Bacon, insist this bill is not about the vaccine, yet the information they want to distribute is the CDC’s Vaccine Information Sheet. This is absolutely about vaccine uptake, especially in a year where the public is losing faith in the flu vaccine. Our elderly community is already over-inundated by flu shot advertisements on every pharmacy billboard and in the nightly news.”

Comerford said Indiana’s aging population “should get their medical advice from their doctors, not their landlord at the assisted-living facility.”

Somerford also added, “And let us not be so arrogant as to believe these intelligent, elderly residents are clueless about the flu itself. They’ve lived through countless flu seasons and know what influenza is. What this bill is mandating is flu shot advertisements and we do not believe taxpayer dollars should be spent when the multibillion-dollar pharma industry can afford their own ads. Our lawmakers are the stop-gap between their constituents and industry. It’s unfortunate the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee members chose to ignore the facts today in favor of a bill that will line the pockets of their campaign donors.”

The bill passed out of committee by a vote of 8-0 Wednesday.