Jan 23, 2003 (CIDRAP News) Ð Connecticut, Nebraska,Vermont, and Los Angeles County this week became the first jurisdictions in thenation to receive smallpox vaccine under the program to prepare for a possibleterrorist release of the virus, federal health officials announced yesterday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)announced that it had shipped enough vaccine and needles to the three statesand one county to inoculate 21,600 public health and healthcare workers. As ofyesterday, 20 states had requested nearly 100,000 doses of vaccine, CDCofficials said.
An Associated Press report today said the first shots willbe given tomorrow in Connecticut and that Nebraska, Vermont, and Los AngelesCounty will begin vaccinations next week. Tomorrow (Jan 24) is the day whenliability protection for smallpox vaccine manufacturers and those whoadminister the vaccine takes effect under the Homeland Security Act.
"At this time, our highest priority is to vaccinatemembers of smallpox response teams in the states," said CDC Director Dr.Julie Gerberding. "Several months of detailed planning and training, andthe development of scientifically sound and informative educational materialshave prepared us for the safe and rapid implementation of the plan to vaccinatethose healthcare professionals who would be on the front lines in the event ofa smallpox attack."
In the first phase of a plan announced Dec 13 by PresidentBush, health authorities hope to vaccinate an estimated 500,000 public healthand healthcare workers. The second phase would extend the voluntaryvaccinations to most other healthcare workers and emergency response workersnationwide, a group estimated at about 10 million.
The Institute of Medicine recently urged the CDC to moveslowly with the vaccination program because of concerns about vaccine sideeffects and unresolved questions about compensation for side effects. ButGerberding said Jan 17 that national security considerations require that thecampaign go forward.
CDC news release