Smallpox Outbreak Plan Issued

Vaccinations Would Be Prioritized According to Exposure

From the WebMD Archives

Sept. 23, 2002 -- States are now armed with a detailed plan for launching a large-scale vaccination program should a smallpox outbreak occur. The CDC on Monday issued a report detailing everything from parking to dealing with the potential side effects of the vaccine.

The guidelines provide a manual for state and local authorities to respond efficiently to a large-scale outbreak and implement a voluntary vaccination plan. They include logistics for vaccine delivery and storage, checklists for supplies and equipment, plans for clinic organization and personnel needs, consent forms, and literature for vaccine recipients.

A vaccination plan would follow what is known as the "ring vaccination concept." This means vaccinating "rings" of people beginning with those closest to the infected patient, then moving on to those who might have been exposed by the first group. The government sees this as a better plan than mass, indiscriminate vaccination because it would protect those at greatest risk of contracting smallpox and prevent it from spreading.

A large-scale vaccination plan would go ahead only after a case is confirmed by the CDC.

Smallpox is an often fatal viral disease that was declared eradicated worldwide in 1980, but fears of it being used as a bioterrorism weapon have arisen since last year's anthrax attacks in the U.S. Routine vaccination stopped in 1972. But the government has contracted with a handful of drug companies to make 300 million doses.

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