My company, a big Wall Street firm, is going ahead with their annual free flu shot program despite the vaccine shortage this year. In fact, we recently got an e-mail encouraging us to get one when a nurse comes into the office next week. It seems a little selfish since the worst that would probably happen to anyone here if they got sick is that they'd miss a few days of work. Knowing what we know about the shortage, should I say something to the person who has scheduled the flu shot program or is it enough if I simply don't get a shot myself?

Healthy New Yorker, Wall Street

With some health clinics around the country saying they could run through their vaccine supply by Saturday, it seems more than "a little selfish" for your firm to go ahead with its free vaccine program. Your company is putting the productivity of traders, analysts, consultants and other executives - all of whom are presumably provided with excellent health coverage - ahead of children, little old ladies and other people with weak immune systems. (Yes, Ask Gothamist knows it is manipulative to use the phrase "little old ladies." So sue us.)

Here's who the Centers For Disease Control thinks should get the flu shot first:

- All children aged 6 to 23 months.
- Adults aged 65 years and older.
- Persons aged 2 to 64 years with underlying chronic medical conditions.
- All women who will be pregnant during the influenza season.
- Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
- Children aged 6 months to 18 years on chronic aspirin therapy.
- Health-care workers involved in direct patient care.
- Out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children aged <6 months.

While there could be some people in your office who qualify - pregnant women, for example - everyone else should be advised that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is not considered one of the "underlying chronic medical conditions" the CDC has in mind. You are right to forgo your flu shot and should advise others in your company to do the same, but Ask Gothamist would suggest you first talk to the program coordinator to voice your concerns. Be sure to have information at your disposal, such as the facts and figures from the CDC website or any relevant news items.

If your company still insists on proceeding with its vaccination program, it should do so providing full disclosure to its employees about the current shortage. Since your company seems to have the kind of access many low-income clinics and nursing homes do not, you might even suggest that your company sponsor a free clinic, distributing the vaccines previously earmarked for the boardroom to those most at risk and least likely to have quality health care.

Since the powers that be at your office seem so concerned with the health of their employees, perhaps it could take the money it would have spent on individual vaccines and offer to pay for one month of everyone's gym membership? Although Ask Gothamist spends most of our days in front of a computer, we hear that exercise is a good way to boost the immune system and prevent illnesses in the first place, without taking medicine away from little old ladies.