|Regional Health Officials Respond to
President's Smallpox Vaccine Plan
Health officials across the metropolitan Washington region have developed strategies to implement the president's announced smallpox vaccination plan. Lynn Frank, chair of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments' (COG) Health Officials Committee, said, "The responsibility that falls on us is daunting. However, we will be ready to put the president's plan into action." The financial burden has yet to be determined.
All jurisdictions have developed strategies for both mass vaccination and pre-event vaccination.
Local health departments will release detailed plans this week. Public health officials have worked with teams, including hospitals, to identify sites and personnel needed for the effort. Dr. Michael Richardson, deputy director of the District of Columbia Department of Health said he "is concerned with the unprecedented scope and complexity of mass vaccinations, especially during the winter or holidays." In September, the District began training both medical professionals and emergency medical technicians to vaccinate, and the training will continue.
Although local plans had been embargoed, Virginia released its plan to local officials last week. Dr. Charles Konigsberg, health officer for the City of Alexandria, said local efforts are underway to work with hospitals and others to provide training and organize the effort.
Maryland is soliciting volunteers from the public health work force that will be immunized against smallpox and will be ready to engage in the public health response. The volunteers will partner with hospital colleagues to form Phase I Smallpox Response Teams. Sites have been selected and a large number of public health workers have been trained to give the vaccine. Frank, who is also chief of Public Health for Montgomery County said public health officials are sharing confidential parts of the plans with each other on a need-to-know basis to "ensure the protection of the region."
Contact phone number: Lynn Frank (240) 777-1301. (Please specify whether you are seeking the COG perspective or local Montgomery County information).
Release Date: Dec 16, 2002
Contact: Karen Sibert