Vermont Resumes Smallpox Vaccinations

For Immediate Release
April 10, 2003
News media contact:
Nancy Erickson
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON -- Smallpox vaccination clinics have resumed this week after a temporary delay.

“It is a high priority for Vermont to make sure that we have smallpox response teams ready to quickly and effectively respond to even a single case,” said Health Commissioner Paul Jarris, MD. “Smallpox vaccination clinics are back on line again, and we are confident that the newest screening guidelines from CDC will safeguard the health and safety of those who volunteer to be vaccinated.”

On March 25, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) took the precautionary step of adding a temporary medical deferral to the smallpox vaccination program for people who have been diagnosed with heart disease. Vermont health officials decided to postpone clinics scheduled for March 28 through the first week of April, while awaiting more definitive guidance from CDC. Extensive new screening guidelines for people volunteering to be vaccinated were issued March 31, and have been incorporated into Vermont’s clinics.

As an extra measure of precaution, the new screening guidelines direct that anyone who has been diagnosed by a doctor as having a heart condition with or without symptoms will NOT get the smallpox vaccine at this time. In addition, anyone reporting having three or more of the following risk factors will also NOT get the smallpox vaccine at this time:

As of March 28, 38 Vermonters had been vaccinated, with no adverse reactions reported. Nearly 30,000 civilians have been vaccinated across the country as part of an effort to prepare the United States for a terrorist attack using smallpox virus.

Vermont’s program incorporates, and will continue to incorporate, extensive safeguards to ensure that all those volunteering to be vaccinated are thoroughly informed and screened to make sure they are appropriate candidates for vaccination.

For more information about smallpox and the smallpox vaccine, see the CDC website: www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/smallpox/index.asp.