Federal Vaccination Plan Inadequate

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vaccineA U.S. scientist is criticizing the effectiveness of a federal plan to vaccinate hospital healthcare workers against a threat of smallpox.

Temple University researchers who conducted the first metric analysis of the prophylactic health program say it fell short on several levels and raises questions about future preparedness.

In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked each state to vaccinate at least 50 to 100 healthcare workers per hospital -- a number the government considered large enough to respond to a possible smallpox outbreak.

"Some states requested thousands of vaccines, while others only a few hundred," said lead researcher Sarah Bass, an assistant professor of public health.

While the lack of an impending smallpox crisis might account for the differences, she said federal and state governments could have done a better job.

"Some felt the CDC or state health departments sent ambivalent messages about the importance of the program, and many states did not fully support the effort," Bass said. "The result was a very inconsistent uptake of the vaccination program ..."

The study appears online ahead of print in the journal Epidemiology and Infection.

© 2006 UPI