CDC Officials Unveil ‘Blueprint’ for Mass Smallpox Vaccinations
As expected, the CDC yesterday released a "logistical blueprint on how to conduct a mass vaccination" of people living in the United States in the event of a terrorist attack using smallpox, USA Today reports. According to the plan, the CDC could distribute to states up to 280 million doses of smallpox vaccine -- enough to immunize the entire U.S. population -- within 10 days of a confirmed outbreak (Manning, USA Today, 9/24). The 48-page plan, titled "Smallpox Vaccination Clinic Guide," instructs state health officials to identify 20 vaccination sites -- including high schools, health clinics, arenas, theaters, conference halls and shopping malls -- for every one million residents. The guide estimates that 1.3 million volunteers across the nation would need to be recruited to staff clinics 16 hours a day for seven days. The plan describes a "step-by-step scenario" for handling a smallpox attack and recommends states identify and train personnel to, among other duties, administer the vaccine, handle security, transport people, brief the media, direct traffic, run instructional videos, collect medical histories and enter data into computers (Connolly, Washington Post, 9/24).
The plan builds upon initial smallpox response guidelines that called for a "ring vaccination" method of protecting people in areas of the country where outbreaks occur, the Wall Street Journal reports. Under the ring method, people who first contract smallpox would be isolated and vaccinated, followed by an outwardly expanding series of vaccinations for people who came into contact with those infected (Lueck, Wall Street Journal, 9/24). The new plan stipulates that smallpox vaccination would remain voluntary during an outbreak, although people with confirmed smallpox exposure who refuse vaccination could be involuntarily quarantined for up to 18 days (Gay Stolberg/Altman, New York Times, 9/24). In addition, everyone who receives the vaccine, which is not yet approved by the FDA, would be required to sign a consent form acknowledging that they "understand the vaccine is experimental and they are aware of possible side effects," including death (Gorner, Chicago Tribune, 9/24). Walter Orenstein, director of the CDC's National Immunization Program, said, "The purpose of this plan is to take the next step in getting states ready in the event of an attack. The goal here is to help states and localities develop the capacity to provide vaccine to very large numbers of people as rapidly as possible" (Washington Post, 9/24). David Flemming, the CDC's deputy director for science and public health, said, "Our goal would be to protect as many people as possible, with the first part of the campaign focused on those determined to be at greatest risk" (Wall Street Journal, 9/24).
The following broadcast programs included coverage of the new smallpox vaccination plan:
- ABCNews' "World News Tonight": A transcript of the segment is available online (Judd, "World News Tonight," ABCNews, 9/23).
- CBS' "Evening News": A transcript of the segment is available online (Rather, "CBS Evening News," CBS, 9/23). A video interview with CDC Director Julie Gerberding on CBS' "The Early Show" is available in RealPlayer online.
- NBC "Nightly News": The full segment is available in RealPlayer Video online (Bazell, "NBC Nightly News," NBC, 9/23).
- NPR's "All Things Considered": The full segment is available in RealPlayer Audio online (Knox, "All Things Considered," NPR, 9/23). A second NPR segment included an interview with Jonathan Tucker, on-leave director of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, about reasons for "official concern" about smallpox "as opposed to any other possible biological attack." The full segment is available in RealPlayer Audio online (Ydstie, "All Things Considered," NPR, 9/23).
- NPR's "Morning Edition": The full segment will be available after noon ET online (Knox, "Morning Edition," NPR, 9/24).
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