Locals Prepare Smallpox Vaccinations

December 2, 2002
Posted at: 6:20 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, Ark. -- The newly signed Homeland Security Act gives the nation's medical community, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention the opportunity to prepare to fight a dangerous disease.

Since the terrorist attacks in New York over a year ago, bioterrorism has become a more commonly used word around the country. According to the federal government, the terrorists like the ones who took thousands of lives a few months ago are capable of doing it again, through bioterrorism, if America is not ready. Part of the local prevention plan now focuses on smallpox vaccines. The disease, which is very contagious is also deadly.

"Phase one of the (local) plan would include the emergency personnel, and some physicians, medical employees; that sort of thing," said Greg Hogue of the Craighead County Health Department.

The bioterrorism plan covers a very dangerous possibility that terrorists would spread the virus through vapors, infecting a specific area. Hogue says there are no known cases of smallpox in Arkansas, and haven't been in about thirty years.

Hogue says that the first phase for smallpox inoculations were for first responders. Secondly; health department personnel, followed by volunteers who would like to be innoculated. Rare cases of illnesses have been blamed on smallpox vaccinations, a gamble government officials feel that needs to taken.