Los Angeles County To Request 20,000 Doses of Smallpox Vaccine
Los Angeles County plans to request 20,000 doses of smallpox vaccine for emergency health care workers, as well as for some police officers and firefighters, and the Department of Health Services plans to request an additional 40,000 to 50,000 doses for other areas of the state as part of their bioterrorism preparedness plans, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of public health for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, the county does not have a "firm timetable" on when to begin the vaccinations, but CDC requirements mandate "impending action," the Times reports. The county will offer voluntary vaccinations, and officials estimate that pregnancy and medical conditions will prevent the vaccination of 30% of those eligible. Under the county vaccination plan, 80 public and private hospitals with emergency rooms will receive stores of smallpox vaccine based on the size of the facilities. The county's request to vaccinate all "first responders" differs from national recommendations to inoculate them in the second round of vaccinations. The county plans to vaccinate additional police officers, firefighters and health care workers in the second round of vaccinations, Fielding said. Officials at the Hospital Association of Southern California criticized the plan, which they said would leave hospitals liable for their failure to offer the smallpox vaccine to all employees or for side effects associated with the vaccine. "Here we are asking employees to work where we know now that there is a hazard, and we're only inoculating certain employees and not others. Who is going to play God here?" HASC Executive Vice President Jim Lott said (Richardson/Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 12/3).
In related news, hospitals in counties statewide "hurried" yesterday to inform officials of the number of their employees who should receive the smallpox vaccine in the first round of vaccinations, the Sacramento Bee reports. According to Dr. Glennah Trochet, Sacramento County public health officer, DHS asked county officials to estimate the number of individuals who will participate in the first round of vaccinations by yesterday (Lau, Sacramento Bee, 12/3).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.