Is the government shutdown bad for your health?

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How is the government shut down affecting your health?  In more ways than you might think.

First, government websites including those of the fda, cdc and nih are not being updated so some of the latest health information is not getting out there.


At the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, the largest research hospital in the world, there are 1,437 ongoing research studies. Of those, 497 are designed to test a new drug or device in people.

According to NIH spokesperson John Burklow, “The current studies will continue and the patients will be cared for.  We’re just not enrolling new patients and we are not initiating new studies.”


NIH studies around the country are also ongoing, but federal grant applications, due this week on October 5, will be back logged. With the shutdown, there are no staff members in place to review all those applications. And that means progress on potentially lifesaving drugs will be halted.


Here in Chicago, at research hospitals like Rush University Medical Center and University of Chicago, it`s business as usual. Their government-funded clinical trials will continue  as will those at other sites around the country.

However, researchers will experience a delay if they need to draw additional funds from their federal grants. And that could ultimately impact the research.


As a result of the shutdown, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has furloughed 9,000 employees. According to CDC spokesperson Barbara Reynolds, the CDC is “much less able” to track multi-state disease outbreaks including the flu.

And it will have lasting effects, as the CDC`s ability to warn populations most at risk for becoming sick and its ability to create next year`s flu shot has been compromised

Current flu vaccine production is complete.  The shutdown will not impact your ability to get a flu shot this season.


As for food safety, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will continue inspecting meat production facilities with full time inspectors.

But the Food and Drug Administration which is charged with overseeing both imported foods and medications will halt that task.  Without inspectors, who typically monitor 80percent of the food supply, all items will pass through without oversight, potentially landing items in the grocery store and on your table that may cause food borne illness.


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