Federal Officials Ask States To Revise Smallpox Vaccination Plans
Federal health officials have asked states to revise smallpox vaccination plans to take into account budgetary restraints and citizens' reluctance to receive the inoculation, the AP/Nando Times reports. Under the new plans, states will be asked to integrate smallpox vaccinations into a larger effort to combat a potential bioterrorist attack. Officials are asking states to calculate how many health workers must receive the vaccine to adequately address a smallpox outbreak. Currently, fewer than half of all states have reported that they are capable of vaccinating their entire populations within 10 days. In addition, federal officials are asking states to develop programs to control a smallpox outbreak, including surveillance and reporting systems, staff training, public information strategies and plans to practice for an outbreak (Meckler, AP/Nando Times, 5/1).
The federal request comes after about 33,000 people have received the smallpox vaccine as of April 18; the Bush administration originally had hoped that 500,000 health care workers would be vaccinated within a month of the program's January 24 launch date (California Healthline, 4/30). Some states have said that they lacked sufficient funding to reach that goal. Congress has approved nearly $1 billion to help states implement their new plans and the money will be distributed to states after they submit their bioterrorism preparedness plans to the government. According to Joe Henderson, head of the CDC bioterrorism preparedness program, states will now balance budgetary concerns with how many vaccinations are required. "It's up to them to tell us how many individuals they need," Henderson said. The AP/Times reports that state and local health officials are satisfied with the new policy. "It's a matter of recognizing that one size does not fit all," Mary Selecky, president of the Association on State and Territorial Health Officers and health secretary for Washington state, said (AP/Nando Times, 5/1).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.