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The Swine Flu Affair: Decision-Making on a Slippery Disease
Hall of the House. The Senate bill was rushed there without even copies for members. It was voted three to one. Ford signed it (PL 94-380) with alacrity on August 12.
Thus the swine flu program was saved. Ford, Rogers, Mathews, Cavanaugh and Cooper, maybe Sencer, surely Taft the late arrival, were each in his way pleased, a hard task done, a purpose carried through; at last an open door to immunization. One or two levels down in PHS and CDC, a thrill went through some of the troops. Hattwick and company raced to be ready. Epidemiologists stiffened at their posts. Some others, however, were secretly sorry. For numbers of those who now had dirty work to do, coping with disgruntled states, fending off a captious press, making a late start on a no-longer shiny program (and discounting a pandemic, as by now many did), the prospect of congressional inaction had been soothing, the more so the closer it came. By no fault of their own, they would be prevented from doing their duty—or, put another way, from doing the overblown thing their bosses had gotten them into. In ten days’ time the prospect had been snatched away. Now they had to do it. Their reaction was, “Oh, shit.”