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Medical News and Perspectives
February 12, 2003

Smallpox Vaccine Program Launched Amid Concerns Raised by Expert Panel, Unions

JAMA. 2003;289(6):685-686. doi:10.1001/jama.289.6.685

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began shipping smallpox vaccine to some states on January 22, launching the first phase of a federal program to vaccinate a half million US health care workers. The vaccine is being offered on a voluntary basis to those who would be the most likely to respond to a terrorist attack with smallpox—emergency department personnel and people working on special smallpox response teams.

Under the program, which was announced by President Bush in December, states could begin inoculating volunteers on January 24. Another 10 million people, including additional health care workers and emergency medical personnel, firefighters, and police, will be offered the vaccine during phase 2 of the program. Mandatory immunization of 500 000 military personnel was already under way last December.

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