From the March 2003 Idaho Observer:

Most Americans cross name off smallpox vaccine

ATLANTA -- As of March 7, 2003, only 12,690 healthcare workers and first responders nationwide have opted to receive a smallpox vaccination, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports confirm. The figure is well-short of the 500,000 targets the Bush administration announced last January.

Grassroots opposition to Bush's smallpox mass vaccination plan began to surface almost immediately after Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson announced that he was going to buy “a smallpox vaccine with everyone's name on it” in October, 2001.

Institutional opposition to the Bush plan became increasingly vocal beginning September 22, 2002 -- the day CDC officials released its 49-page report outlining its recommendations to the states for implementation of mass smallpox vaccination plans.

Entire hospitals and medical districts all over the nation openly defied the plan; even the American Medical Association determined the plan is ill-advised. Organized medicine's most common arguments in opposition to mass smallpox vaccination are that the danger of adverse reactions to the smallpox vaccine far outweigh the danger of a biological attack and no compensation is available to those who suffer adverse reactions from the vaccine.

SF hospital bars vaccine

San Francisco General Hospital has gone so far as to bar its employees from receiving the smallpox vaccine. Their policy is a result of fears that their healthcare workers could infect their already immune compromised patients. Ironically, CDC Director Julie Gerberding, who used to run the Infectious Disease Control Unit at San Francisco General Hospital, declined to comment on SF General's smallpox vaccine policy.

A shot in the arm

200 years of experience with the smallpox vaccine proves its effectiveness in creating public health disasters (See Smallpox Alert!) and that it does not prevent spread of the disease. Regardless the Bush administration insists upon providing the incentive necessary for 500,000 healthcare workers nationwide to be inoculated with the smallpox vaccine.

Denver Post Staff Writer Karen Auge stated that on March 5, the Bush administration “...took action that might give the stalled program a shot in the arm.” It unveiled a compensation plan that would pay $260,000 to the families of people who die from the shot and pay up to two-thirds of a health worker's lost wages should the vaccine make them sick enough to miss work.

Perhaps widespread opposition to the CDC's smallpox vaccine program will continue to derail this ill-advised federal plan -- regardless of Bush administration tactics to keep it on track.

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Hari Heath

Vaccination Liberation -

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