Bush Receives Smallpox Vaccine, Shows ‘No Immediate Side Effects’
As expected, President Bush on Dec. 21 received a smallpox vaccination and showed "no immediate ill effects" from the vaccine, the AP/Nando Times reports. Bush, "fulfilling a promise" made on Dec. 13 when he ordered smallpox vaccinations for approximately 500,000 military personnel stationed in "high-risk" areas of the world, previously said, "As commander in chief, I do not believe I can ask others to accept this risk unless I am willing to do the same." Having received a smallpox vaccination as a child, Bush did not immediately experience side effects associated with the weakened live-virus vaccine, including sore arm, fever, swollen glands, fatigue and other flu-like symptoms (Lindlaw, AP/Nando Times, 12/22). The administration is suggesting that medical providers and emergency workers, who may come in contact with the virus, also receive the vaccination and plans to make the vaccine available to healthy civilian adults on a voluntary basis by this summer, the Washington Post reports (Allen, Washington Post, 12/22). However, Bush said he is not recommending that the general public be vaccinated, adding that his family and staff would not receive the inoculation. Approximately 15 out of every one million people vaccinated for the first time against smallpox will experience "life-threatening" side effects, and one to two people will die from the vaccine. Reactions are "less common" for people who have previously received the smallpox vaccine (AP/Nando Times, 12/22). American Public Health Association Executive Director Dr. Georges Benjamin discussed public misconceptions about the smallpox virus and Bush's vaccination program on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" on Dec. 23("Washington Journal," C-SPAN, 12/23). Video of the full segment will be available online in RealPlayer later today.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.