Potassium Iodide Distribution To Begin for Six Vermont Towns

For immediate release:
April 4, 2002
Contact: Jan K. Carney, MD
Vermont Health Commissioner
802-863-7280

BURLINGTON, VT—Vermont health officials announced today that distribution of potassium iodide tablets to people who work or reside in six Southeastern Vermont towns will begin on April 15. Persons interested in participating in the voluntary program may apply immediately, using forms and information available on the Department’s website, www.HealthyVermonters.info. Or, starting April 15, they may call the Health Department’s Brattleboro office at 251-2160.

Potassium iodide is a drug that, taken in an appropriate and timely dosage, can block exposure to radioactive iodine, one of the contaminants that could be released in a nuclear accident or similar event. Exposure can increase the risk of thyroid cancer.

As part of Vermont’s terrorism preparedness effort, officials are making available one dose of potassium iodide to each person who works or resides in the six towns within the emergency planning zone for the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station. The qualifying towns are Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, Halifax, Marlboro or Vernon.

“There is no substitute for following emergency instructions, such as evacuation orders, in case of a nuclear emergency,” Health Commissioner Dr. Jan K. Carney said, “but potassium iodide provides one protection we can distribute in advance.”

“It should not be taken needlessly,” Dr. Carney said, “but if it is taken immediately at the time of exposure, it could help prevent thyroid cancer, especially in children.”

As of April 15, paper versions of all the necessary information and forms are available from the town clerk’s office in each of the six towns, from the Vermont Health Department’s District Office at 232 Main Street, Brattleboro, and from the Brooks Memorial Library in Brattleboro.

“We also are setting up clinics where area residents who have questions can come in and consult with a public health nurse,” Dr. Carney said. After filling out the forms, applicants may receive their potassium iodide in person or through the mail.