Davis County Reassesses Smallpox Vaccinations

Davis County Reassesses Smallpox Vaccinations

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FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) -- Davis County health officials are reassessing plans to vaccinate area emergency responders against smallpox.

They are weighing the risk of a smallpox outbreak against the potential side effects of the vaccination.

In preparation for a bioterrorism attack on the nation, health departments across the country were to inoculate volunteer health officials and emergency responders and then the general public with the smallpox vaccine.

The vaccinations were called for by President George W. Bush. Federal and state officials had anticipated vaccinating about 450,000 health workers in the first month of the program. After three months, just 34,541 nationally had received the inoculation.

With the pressure of the war in Iraq gone, the potential threat of a bioterrorism attack on the nation has been reduced, county health director Lewis R. Garrett said, adding, "Davis County is not a high-profile target for terrorists."

About 250 people have been inoculated in Utah.

Davis Health has inoculated 10 members of its health staff who could serve as an initial response team, Garrett said.

Garrett said it has proven difficult to find staff not allergic to some compound in the vaccine,

The Weber-Morgan Health Department has inoculated about 40 people so far, said Gary House, executive director for the department.

"We're trying to evaluate just what level of effectiveness we would have at this point," he said. "We are still actively recruiting volunteers for the vaccination and we will continue our efforts until the point we feel would be adequate in case of a smallpox outbreak."

Davis Health Board chairman-elect Dr. Charles Harpe said the threat of a smallpox outbreak versus the risk of the vaccine doesn't seem balanced. "That is why the medical community never embraced this," he said.

Harpe said that in the first phase of vaccinating health staff across the nation, there were a few fatalities.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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