By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Oct 22, 2009 at 12:43 PM

With apologies to Chandler Bing, I have to ask: Could the Swine Flu vaccine process in Milwaukee be more complicated?

I hoped it wouldn't go down this way, but I feared it would. After hearing about an initial vaccine clinic all week, this morning, we received a fax (yes, a fax) from the City of Milwaukee Health Department will all sorts of new and confusing information.

All of the pertinent information is here, but what's irking me is all the conflicting changes coming down the pike. First, we were told that babies should line up for the vaccine on Friday; now we learn that because it's the nasal version, it's only for kids 2 and up. However, it's recommended for people who care for babies under 6 months; but not for pregnant mothers. And people wonder why citizens are becoming suspicious of a vaccine that may not arrive en masse for quite a while.

Of course, there are distribution delays of the injectable version, until "possibly early November," the updated release says. "Possibly," eh? That's encouraging.

And for some reason, the city is setting up a single clinic on Friday at Sarah Scott Complex, 1017 N. 12th St. Then, if supplies remain (yeah, good luck with that), they open an additional clinic at South Division High School, 1515 W. Lapham Blvd. The hours of operation are different on both days.

Does this sound ridiculously confusing and disorganized to you? It does to me. How long have local health agencies had to get ready for this event? Six months? Longer? Who wants to take bets on the number of shoving matches that break out at these clinics ... or what time supplies run out Friday morning?

And not that it's the City's fault that the federal government is delayed in supplying these vaccines, but come on, this is the biggest pandemic in almost a century. It would've been nice for the federal government to step it up a bit. I thought this country learned something after dropping the ball on Hurricane Katrina.  There will be a lot of officials with blood on their hands if bureaucracy starts costing people their lives. 

I predict a full-on debacle on both Friday and Saturday, with tons of backtracking, feeble excuses and hand wringing. But worst of all, it didn't have to happen this way. At my very first job in public relations, I learned that the best executed crisis communications plan is drafted before the crisis.

Now, at the 11th hour, the city is faxing out contradictory news releases and counting on local media to get the already confusing story straight. I believe this is what the kids call an "epic fail." Only this time, it's not funny. Lives are at stake.

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.