HHS Releases $100M To Help States Revise Smallpox Vaccination Plans
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson yesterday announced that the CDC will release $100 million to states to revise their smallpox vaccination plans and to improve the public health infrastructure, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 5/5). Federal health officials last week asked states to revise their smallpox vaccination plans to account for budget deficits and the concerns from health care workers and other about the risks of the vaccine. Officials asked states to combine smallpox vaccinations with a larger effort to prepare for a bioterrorist attack and to determine the number of health care workers who must receive the smallpox vaccine to address an outbreak of the disease. In addition, officials asked states to develop programs to control a smallpox outbreak (California Healthline, 5/2). As of April 25, only 34,541 individuals nationwide had received the smallpox vaccination; the Bush administration had hoped that 500,000 health care workers would have received the vaccine by Feb. 24, one month after the launch of the national smallpox vaccination plan (Smith, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 5/6). Some states have said that they lacked adequate funds to administer their smallpox vaccination programs, prepare for bioterrorist attacks, address other public health issues such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and maintain their basic health programs (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 5/5). Thompson said, "Because a smallpox attack is possible, we must prepare our public health workers to quickly respond to protect the American public. This additional money is part of our overall commitment to our state and local partners to build a stronger public health system to care for Americans in the event of any emergency, including a smallpox attack" (HHS release, 5/5). The $100 million was included in legislation (HR 1770) signed into law late last month that will provide compensation for health care workers and others who experience adverse effects from the smallpox vaccine (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 5/5).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.