Congressional staffers told to get vaccinated prior to NASCAR races

Today's ridiculous story about representatives of our beloved federal government involves congressional staffers, NASCAR, and vaccinations. It seems the House Homeland Security Committee organized a fact-finding mission to two NEXTEL Cup races (Talladega last weekend and Lowe's Motor Speedway this coming weekend) to "study public health issues at mass gatherings." Prior to heading out on the trips, the aides participating in the study were advised to get a battery of immunizations to protect against -- we're not making it up -- hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria and influenza.

Read on after the jump to find out why immunizations are necessary for staffers attending NASCAR races.

[Source: The Charlotte Observer]

Listen, it's flu-shot time anyway, but the rest seem a bit ridiculous on the face of things. If you didn't know better, you might think the stands at a NASCAR event were a disease-riddled petri dish based on the vaccination list. Naturally, this didn't sit well with Rep. Robin Hayes (R - NC), who hails from Concord, NC, where Lowe's Motor Speedway is located. He complained about the negative impression the immunization requirement makes in a letter to committee chairman Bennie Thompson (D - MS). Hayes, you see, has attended many races in his hometown without contracting, say, diptheria.

Thompson replied in a letter of his own which stated that the vaccinations were recommended not to combat NASCAR aficionados' cooties, but because the staffers involved would also be visiting local medical facilities (hospitals, etc.) as part of the study, and preventive vaccinations are good practice in such cases. In short, it seems like a pretty big misunderstanding (mixed with some political gamesmanship, to be sure) that could have been avoided with better communication. Had that been the case, we'd have never even heard about it. Instead, it's the top headline on Drudge as I write this. Politicians...

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