Frontlines | Smallpox Vaccination Plan Is 'Kaput'--Or Is It?

On Dec. 14, 2002, the Bush Administration announced its plan to vaccinate within a 30-day period about 400,000 to 500,000 healthcare workers and "other critical personnel" against smallpox.1 That plan fizzled amid concerns about possible serious adverse reactions and confusion about who could be vaccinated safely.2

By Oct. 10, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site indicated that only 38,542 people are vaccinated nationwide, but that 291,400 vaccine doses had been shipped to the states. About a week later, USA Today reported that a CDC official said the plan "has stopped."3 Not so, wrote CDC Director Julie Gerberding in a letter published in the paper's Oct. 23 issue. It "continues," she wrote, but now, "the vaccination program is only one element of smallpox preparedness."

CDC spokesman Tom Skinner elaborated, saying that the agency is educating...

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