As expected, the president announced Friday his plan for providing the Smallpox vaccine to all Americans. President Bush said he will join military soldiers in that first group to get the vaccine. So, why now?
"America has stockpiled enough vaccine and is now prepared to immaculate our entire population in the event of a smallpox attack," says President Bush.
Under the Bush plan, a half million soldiers began getting the vaccine Friday. Soon, it will be recommended to emergency health workers, but not required because the vaccine has serious, even fatal complications.
"A small number of people will have severe, toxic reactions, encephalitis, inflammation of the brain, severe skin reactions. Some people even died as a result of getting the vaccine," says Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Shmul Shoham.
"I know I don't want to get it. I don't want to bring it home to my family, but it's still too early in the game to decide," says Triage Nurse, Dioghan Dammacco. concerned mother.
Doctors are hoping by the time the vaccine is offered to the public in 2004, a safer form will be available. That is important because the vaccination creates an open sore, which for a few weeks, can transmit the vaccinated virus. The live virus in the Smallpox vaccine something that could pose a danger to the 50-million people who should never get the vaccination, especially those with weakened immune systems.
By the way, if you've got a round scar with some dots in it at the top of your left arm or shoulder, that's a Smallpox vaccine. But that program was stopped in 1972. So, does that still give you any protection today? Tiji Ward at the Lubbock Health Department says no, because it wasn't a lifetime vaccine and we all missed out on booster shots to keep it effective.