|January 24, 2003|
ILLINOIS ORDERS 10,000 DOSES OF SMALLPOX VACCINE
SPRINGFIELD, IL Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director, today announced Illinois has ordered 10,000 doses of smallpox vaccine from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in preparation for the start of a voluntary program to protect public health and hospital workers who would be called on to respond to an outbreak of smallpox.
"This is a step in a very careful and deliberate process that is being taken to protect the citizens of Illinois and the nation from the threat of a bioterrorist attack using smallpox," Dr. Lumpkin said. "While the probability of an intentional release of smallpox virus remains low, it is incumbent on us to be prepared by improving the capabilities of the public health system to respond."
The state expects to receive its shipment of smallpox kits from CDC next week with enough vaccine and bifurcated (two-prong) needles to immunize the volunteer smallpox response team members identified by the 93 local health departments and 166 hospitals outside the city of Chicago.
The first vaccinations are expected to begin as soon as the state completes a review of the informed consent packets that are to be provided to each potential vaccinee, the liability protection provisions put in place by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for those giving and receiving the inoculation and injury compensation for those experiencing adverse reactions.
"All of those volunteering to be part of the state's smallpox response team must be fully informed of the risks associated with the vaccine and carefully screened for any contraindications," Dr. Lumpkin said. "There are risks associated with this vaccine and every precaution must be taken to minimize possible complications."
Contraindications include persons with weakened immune systems (cancer patients, organ transplant recipients, persons with HIV/AIDS and persons taking steroids), women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, nursing mothers and persons with eczema or certain other skin conditions.
In addition, people who live with or have close physical contact with persons in the higher-than-normal risk categories should not be vaccinated.
The state's vaccination plan, which was approved by CDC last month, will begin with a model clinic in Springfield where local health department staff will be trained in how to administer the vaccine and the first inoculations will be given. Those trained will then be dispatched to 26 clinics in the state where other local health department and hospital workers will be vaccinated. Once the vaccinations start, it is expected that it will take 30 to 45 days to complete the initial phase of the smallpox vaccination effort.
A second phase, to include other hospital workers and police, firefighters and paramedics, will follow, but a timetable has not yet been finalized. A third phase and final phase would provide the vaccination to the general public.
Smallpox is a disease caused by a virus (variola) and characteristically includes skin lesions that eventually scab over. In most cases, smallpox is spread by an ill person to others through infectious saliva droplets, but also could be spread by contaminated clothing or bed linen.
If used in biowarfare, smallpox virus could be dispersed in the air and potential victims the area of the release would breathe in the virus, or infected persons could be sent into a crowded area to attempt to spread the disease to others.
The last case in the United States was in 1949 and the last cases in Illinois were recorded in 1947. Routine vaccinations in the U.S. were discontinued in 1972. The last naturally acquired case of smallpox in the world occurred in 1977 in Somalia.
of Public Health
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