The Public Health System in Action

Bethlehem’s Health Bureau is giving out free flu shots, and I’m wondering if they’re checking people’s addresses to make sure nobody’s free-riding from the other Northampton County municipalities who don’t pay for a public health department. Bethlehem taxpayers are paying for the flu shots, after all.

That’s a stupid way to think about public health of course. Somebody eating at Jenny’s Kuali could get breathed on by another patron from Freemansburg who’s got the flu. Communicable diseases do not respect the various political fiefdoms, so it would make more sense to have everybody in the region pay for a health department that provides stuff like free flu shots.


  1. There is no such thing as free flu shots. There is such a thing as flu shots that someone else pays for.

    Bethlehem’s health department has their strategic plan on their website:

    Interestingly, while they list funding as both a weakness and a threat, they spent exactly no time talking about how to deal with the issue.

    Since they didn’t address it, it must not be an issue and they must be fine and able to provide free flu shots to anyone who shows up. If it becomes a problem I’m sure they’ll say something.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      It’s true, in this case it could be a flu shot that Bethlehem residents pay for, and Freemansburg residents get for free.

      Unfortunately for those of you defending the free riders, it’s not possible to do population-level public health policy on a hyper-local level. You need to provide vaccines at the regional level, and that requires everybody to pay in.

  2. Oh, and Bethlehem city government (any any government) can simply contract with one of the hospitals to provide free flu shots for all their residents, pay the cost, and move on.

    Be alot less expensive than having a bunch of bureaucrats sitting around waiting for a flu epidemic.

    Sorry Jon, you made no case at all for a regional initiative here.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Public health officials do a lot more than “sitting around”. This is just one of the roles of a public health department.

      • But this isn’t one of them.

        You want to distribute flu shots? Here’s how it works – Callahan calls St. Luke’s, tells them to give every Bethlehem citizen a free flu shot and send the city the bill. St. Luke’s says ok.

        Done. Took 45 seconds. No overhead, no bureaucrats, no wasted spending.

        Amazing how easy things are when you don’t let crap get in the way.

        • Jon Geeting says:

          The public health department would work with hospitals of course, but in situations like this you need to coordinate the outreach, and bring the shots to the public as much as possible. You can’t just send everybody over to the hospital.

          • St. Luke’s Health Network has the hospital, clinics and doctor’s offices all throughout Bethlehem, network is already there for distribution.

            The PSA reads, “get to any one of these facilities – list here – and get your free shot.”

          • Jon Geeting says:

            You can’t just do drop-ins like that at a doctor’s office

          • Why not? They do drive-up flu shots at CVS for crissakes!

            So even better – city contracts with CVS, they have 3 locations in Bethlehem and offer shots all day every day at each of their stores.

            You’re overthinking this Jon.

          • Jon Geeting says:

            CVS could work. You’re dodging the second half of my point though. You can’t do population-level public health at the city level.

  3. john, bethlehem does already do what your talking about just so you know. They have had a week long clinic in the rotunda with st. lukes already and a weekend clinic with Lehigh Valley and the ironpigs at coca cola park. they are adding this one due to the epidemic levels of the new strand of virus. jon, i am one of those taxpayers and honestly i dont care if they dont live here. this flu has killed 40 ppl and anything that stops the increased spread.

    • Understood Kelly, thanks. The point I was making is that the city doesn’t need a health bureau to offer flu shots, that it can be coordinated very easily.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      My point is just that people shouldn’t pretend they don’t need public health services, and then run to Bethlehem and Allentown to free-ride in crisis moments. They should pay taxes for the public health services all the time, just like Bethlehem and Allentown taxpayers do.

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