December 11, 2002
Posted at: 6:15 p.m. CDT
Updated at: 8:40 p.m. CDT
WASHINGTON -- President Bush is going to make the smallpox vaccine available to all Americans who want it. Administration sources say it's an attempt to guard against a bioterror attack.
He'll first order shots for about half a million military personnel, and offer the vaccine to another half-million emergency medical workers and response teams. Bush will announce his plan Thursdaytomorrow, and it's expected to go into effect within weeks.
Smallpox was declared eradicated worldwide in 1980, but there are fears it could be used as a weapon. Officials are preparing an education effort to help people
decide whether to get vaccinated. An estimated 15 out of every one million people vaccinated for the first time will face life-threatening complications, and one or two will die.
Within weeks, he's also expected to launch a plan to inoculate emergency medical workers and response teams. The source says the public will be offered the vaccine on a voluntary basis as soon as large stockpiles are licensed.
That process could take until early 2004. Bush talked about the broad outlines of his plan Wednesday's on ABC's ``World News Tonight,'' seen on KAIT.