Michigan to Begin Smallpox Vaccinations
February 12, 2003
Michigan Department of Community Health Director Janet Olszewski today announced that Michigan would move forward with its smallpox vaccination plans and begin vaccinating members of the state and regional public health response teams. The decision to commence vaccinations comes as injury compensation discussions progress at the federal level with expected resolution in the near future.
“We feel it is important to begin vaccinating key members of the public health response teams so the regional teams can then move forward with scheduling vaccination clinics for health care providers throughout the state,” said Olszewski. “Given the progress being made at the national level on injury compensation and the recent increase in the national threat assessment, we feel that proceeding with vaccinations is the right approach for Michigan.”
The Michigan Department of Community Health Office of Public Health Preparedness is scheduled to begin vaccinating members of the state and regional public health response teams at a vaccination clinic held in Lansing on Friday, February 21, 2003. (Editor’s Note: Additional information on media availability during the clinic will be distributed in the near future.)
“While we continue to work closely with our federal partners to resolve the outstanding issues around compensation for rare injuries related to smallpox vaccination, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services strongly recommend that states begin vaccinating,” said Michigan Department of Community Health Chief Medical Executive David R. Johnson, M.D. “Our partnerships with hospitals, local health departments and medical control authorities continue to be crucial to our vaccination efforts.”
Michigan's smallpox preparedness plans include the creation of vaccinated teams across the state. Each of the eight Emergency Preparedness regions, into which Michigan has been organized, will have at least one smallpox public health response team and two hospital-based smallpox health care response teams, for a total of approximately 30 smallpox health care response teams across the state. Should there be an actual case or cases of smallpox identified, these teams will be mobilized to vaccinate and follow-up with persons exposed, and to care for those with smallpox.
The first group of individuals considered for voluntary pre-event smallpox vaccination would include the vaccinators themselves, smallpox public health response teams and smallpox health care response teams at designated hospitals. Between 5,000-7,000 people in Michigan could be vaccinated as part of this stage of preparedness for smallpox. Thereafter, emergency responders—including police officers and firefighters—and additional health care workers may be offered smallpox vaccination. The federal government has announced no plans to inoculate the general public at this time, and currently recommends against it.
Although the majority of patients with actual smallpox disease recover, death may occur in approximately 30% of cases. Many smallpox survivors suffer permanent scarring over large areas of their bodies, including their faces. Some are left blind.
The smallpox vaccine is very effective at preventing disease, however, it does have some significant risks. Out of every one million people vaccinated in the past, one or two died as a result of serious adverse reactions to the vaccine, while up to 50 others had life-threatening illness. In the absence of actual smallpox disease, careful screening of potential vaccine recipients is essential to ensure that those at increased risk for adverse reactions do not receive the vaccine. If smallpox cases are discovered, the smallpox vaccine is effective in a post-exposure situation and all persons exposed and potentially exposed should be vaccinated.
Individuals who should NOT be vaccinated as a pre-event measure include people with the following conditions AND those who live with someone who has such a condition:
· Expectant mothers;
· People with eczema or atopic dermatitis, or a history of either;
· People being treated for cancer;
· People who are HIV-positive; and
· People who have had an organ transplant.
Individuals who should not receive the smallpox vaccine also include:
· People who are allergic to the vaccine or any of its ingredients;
· People who have a moderate or severe short-term illness; and
· Anyone who is less than 18 years of age.
In advance of receiving the smallpox vaccine, all individuals will have received the Smallpox Pre-Vaccination Information Packet, for their thorough review. The Smallpox Pre-Vaccination Information Packet is available on the CDC website at www.cdc.gov and by clicking on “Smallpox.”
Additional information on smallpox and smallpox vaccine can also be found on the Michigan Department of Community Health website at www.michigan.gov/mdch and by clicking on “Smallpox.”