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September 24, 2002

U.S. Releases Smallpox Vaccination Clinic Guide

On September 23, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the 48-page “Smallpox Vaccination Clinic Guide” that instructs states on how to vaccinate every American in the event of an attack using smallpox.  The detailed plan calls for each state to vaccinate up to 1 million people in the first ten days of an outbreak. 

Tara O’Toole, MD, MPH, director of the School’s Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies, told the New York Times the plan “makes great good sense,” because it assumes that the nation must be ready to vaccinate a large number of people on short notice.

The plan does not address the issue of vaccinating public health workers and emergency responders prior to an attack. Because the vaccine is made from live virus, people with HIV/AIDS, skin disorders, or other immune deficiencies would be at risk for serious complications from the vaccine and from contact with others who have been inoculated.

Dr. O’Toole told the Times, “It's very hard to say without a clear threat who should and who shouldn't be vaccinated. Some analyses suggest that if you have ever had eczema or live with someone who has, you shouldn't get vaccinated, and by some estimates that eliminates 30 million Americans.”

Smallpox Vaccination Clinic Guide 

Public Affairs Media Contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Brigham @ 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu