|March 4, 2003||Smallpox Vaccination Process|
|Bioterrorism Web site|
ILLINOIS' SMALLPOX VACCINATION PROGRAM BEGINS
SPRINGFIELD, IL Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director, today announced vaccinations were given to five state and local public health employees as a first step in the state's smallpox response plan.
"If an actual smallpox outbreak were to occur, the health care staff vaccinated in this initial phase would be called upon to provide immunizations, to investigate potential cases or to care for infected individuals," Dr. Lumpkin said. "These individuals are aware of the risks associated with the vaccine and are willing to volunteer in order to be prepared to protect the public's health. I commend their dedication."
The plan's initial phase calls for vaccinating volunteer public health and hospital workers who would be called on to respond to an outbreak of smallpox. A second clinic will be held in Springfield next week to train local health department staff in how to administer the vaccine. Additional clinics will be held over the next several weeks. This vaccination effort is expected to take 30 to 45 days to complete.
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 and final phase would provide the vaccination to the general public.
The state received 10,000 doses of smallpox vaccine from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Jan. 30, 2003.
Individuals volunteering for smallpox vaccination will go through a detailed screening and education process before getting the vaccine. Each volunteer will be given an information packet at least five days prior to vaccination and will receive another packet as well as view an 11-minute smallpox vaccine educational video just prior to vaccination.
"The vaccine is widely effective in producing immunity against smallpox. However, unlike the very safe vaccines given to our children today, the smallpox vaccine can be harmful or even life threatening for some people," Dr. Lumpkin said. "In consideration of these adverse effects, volunteers are being given detailed information so they can make an informed decision."
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 are advised not to have the vaccination. In addition, people who live with or have close physical contact with persons in the higher-than-normal risk categories should not be vaccinated.
Each individual's vaccination site will be evaluated six to nine days after the vaccine is given to monitor for adverse events and to determine a vaccine "take." This means the vaccination was successful and the individual has the appropriate immune response to be protected against smallpox.
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 in the area of the release could 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 of smallpox in the United States was in 1949, and the last cases in Illinois were recorded in 1947. Routine vaccinations in the United States were discontinued in 1972. The last naturally acquired case of smallpox in the world occurred in 1977 in Somalia.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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