Pennsylvania preparing to vaccinate health-care workers for smallpox
Smallpox campaign will be far from easy
Friday, December 13, 2002
By Christopher Snowbeck, Post-Gazette Staff Writer
Pennsylvania has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 30,000 doses of the smallpox vaccine to vaccinate health-care workers.
All of the states were required to submit their innoculation plans for health-care workers to the CDC this week. Richard McGarvey, spokesman for the state Department of Health, said Pennsylvania's plan has not yet been approved and the actual number of doses delivered could be higher or lower.
But the current plan would have between 50 and 100 health care professionals at each of the state's 230 hospitals being vaccinated. Vaccine would also be made available to public health workers, such as those at the Allegheny County Health Department.
"We're saying to hospitals, you're going to have to be ready to care for these patients 24 hours per day for up to three weeks, so have enough staff -- no matter how large or small you are -- vaccinated so you can do that," McGarvey said.
Hospitals should look for volunteers, McGarvey said. Those ineligible for vaccination include:
A person with the skin condition eczema;
Those with burns, chickenpox, shingles, impetigo, herpes, severe acne or psoriasis;
People with weakened immune systems due to cancer treatments, organ transplants or HIV;
Pregnant women or women with plans to become pregnant within one month of vaccination.
Guillermo Cole, spokesman for the county Health Department, said no determination has been made as to exactly who will be vaccinated. That's also true at hospitals, said Eric Poach, an emergency medical services specialist at Mercy Hospital.
UPMC Health System has scheduled a press conference for today to discuss the issue.
How individual health care workers will feel about getting vaccinated remains to be seen.
Dr. Virginia Banks, director of the infectious diseases division at Allegheny General Hospital, said she took an informal pool of doctors yesterday to see who would be willing to be vaccinated.
"I really haven't had too many people tell me 'no,' " she said. "They're willing to step up to the plate."
But Diane Lataille, a coronary care nurse at Allegheny General, said she shares concerns about vaccination voiced by her union, the Service Employees International Union. The union has stressed that health care workers should be educated about the risks and given the freedom to decline the vaccine without being subject to discrimination at work.
"As a preventive measure, I'm not so sure I'm convinced at this point that it would be beneficial to me," Lataille said. "I have a lot of questions that would need to be addressed before I would feel comfortable taking it."
Dec 13, '02
You shed the virus at least 6 weeks after innoculation so consider your family/friends who might be on the "ineligible" list above. Also, you MIGHT be sick 3-5 days after - will hospitals stagger the vaccines so a whole unit isn't out?