Smallpox Vaccine...To Get or Not to Get

  1. Hello everyone....i saw that there was another thread started regarding the smallpox vaccine stuff the CDC sent out...which I did receive...can't say that it made me want to run out and get I guess that is my many of you are getting vaccined...i can certainly see how it could be useful working in healthcare and potentially needing it god forbid we have an outbreak somewhere...any thoughts on this? Has anyone had the vaccine? Last case of smallpox was gone before i was even born....thanks!
  2. Poll: Are you getting Vaccinated against Smallpox

    • Yes

      14.29% 3
    • No

      23.81% 5
    • Not unless there is a documented US case

      28.57% 6
    • Need more Information

      33.33% 7
    21 Votes
  3. Visit zambezi profile page

    About zambezi

    Joined: Jul '02; Posts: 1,088; Likes: 82
    CCU (coronary care); clinical research coordinator-neurology


  4. by   VivaLasViejas
    I got the information package from the CDC too, which was pretty informative, and convinced me that I should NOT receive the vaccine. I wasn't planning to get it anyway; I was given the vaccine when I was young just like everybody else, and didn't really see the need to do it again unless there was an outbreak. But since I have a history of eczema, there's no way I'm taking a chance unless I'm faced with an actual smallpox victim. It's not outside the realm of possibility since I work in a hospital now, but until it happens, I'm not messing with the vaccine.
  5. by   pickledpepperRN
    Sorry if you saw this info on another post. I put it on the wrong one.,5604217.story
    Los Angeles; Infection Tied to Smallpox Vaccine; The eye problem is linked to contact with a member of
    military who was inoculated.
    The Los Angeles Times; Los Angeles, Calif.; Mar 1, 2003; Lisa Richardson;
    S.F. General balks on vaccine
    Hospital bars staff from smallpox
    shots due to public safety

    Sabin Russell, Chronicle Staff Writer

    Tuesday, March 4, 2003

    In one of the strongest challenges anywhere to the
    Bush administration's smallpox vaccination plan, San
    Francisco General Hospital is virtually barring staffers
    from getting immunized because of concerns about
    patient safety.

    The move is part of a widening revolt in medical
    circles against the White House vaccine program.
    Coincidentally, that program is led by Centers for
    Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Julie
    Gerberding, who ran the infection control programs at
    San Francisco General before joining the CDC in

    Initially, federal planners hoped to vaccinate 500,000
    doctors and nurses who would be the first line of
    defense against a bioterrorism attack.

    But because the vaccine itself is an infectious agent
    -- a virus that causes vaccinia -- it is potentially
    dangerous to those sensitive to that disease. There
    is also a risk that newly immunized health care

    for two to four weeks after vaccination, can
    accidentally transmit vaccinia to patients.

    Vaccinia typically stirs up a strong antibody
    response that protects against smallpox. But
    vaccinia can sometimes cause a life-threatening,
    runaway infection, particularly in people with
    weakened immunity.

    Dr. Susan Fernyak, director of communicable
    disease prevention and smallpox planning for the San
    Francisco Department of Public Health, said the
    purpose of the policy restricting vaccinations is to
    protect those patients.

    "We didn't want anyone who is vaccinated, and still
    infectious, to be working with patients directly," she
    said. "We have a high number of patients with HIV,
    with certain skin conditions, with cancer, with
    transplanted organs or who are taking
    immunosuppressive agents."

    Under the policy, city health care workers who have
    "direct contact" with patients are forbidden to receive
    the vaccine unless they can find a way to avoid
    patients. They must do so until the blister from the
    vaccine on their arm is no longer infectious -- at least
    two to four weeks.


    But Fernyak acknowledged that, due to the chronic
    shortage of nurses and tight budgets, almost no one
    in the hospital can be relieved from patient care duty
    for that length of time.

    Throughout the health department, about 15 doctors
    and administrators have juggled schedules so they
    can be vaccinated, she said. Nurses are unlikely to
    be able to do the same.

    Gerberding declined to comment on San Francisco's
    smallpox vaccine policy, but CDC spokesman Tom
    Skinner said cities should not gloss over the risk of
    bioterrorism. Gerberding, he said, "has been
    participating in meetings where a certain level of
    intelligence has been shared, and she's saying that,
    without a doubt, we're doing the right thing."

    Skinner said the reluctance of many hospital workers
    to be vaccinated could be shortsighted. "Here's the
    problem: I don't think anyone knows what an attack
    will look like," he said. "Would it be one case in
    Middletown, USA? Or a thousand cases at different
    locations? Or a thousand cases in one location? You
    must have people in place to vaccinate people."

    While most nurses at San Francisco General appear
    to support the city's stance -- and are firmly backed
    by their union -- there are some who want to be

    "We're all health care professionals. We can make
    decisions for ourselves. You don't get to be an ER
    nurse without having some brains," said one
    emergency department nurse, who asked to remain


    "There are two chances in a million of dying from a
    vaccine," the nurse added. "What are the chances of
    a terrorist attack?"

    A study by Rand, a Santa Monica think tank,
    estimated that the nation's 10 million health care
    workers, who make up 3 percent of the population,
    could account for as many as half of the nation's
    smallpox cases in the event of an attack.

    But across the nation, only about 7,354 civilians have
    been vaccinated under the program to date. Labor
    unions are actively urging their members not to
    volunteer for the vaccine.

    Nurse union activists say the overwhelming majority
    of nurses at San Francisco General support the
    policy -- in fact, the Service Employees International
    Union Local 790 was among the first to criticize the
    vaccination plan.

    "My feeling is, we don't ask the health department,
    which is scarce on resources, to pay for other
    people's paranoia," said Lorraine Thiebaud, vice
    president of Local 790. "If you want to get the
    vaccine, and you've got vacation time on the books,
    go out and use it."

    For every 1 million people vaccinated, according to
    the CDC, between 14 and 52 will experience a severe
    reaction, and one or two will die of it. Among that
    same group of people, there will be 20 to 60 cases of
    accidental transmission to someone who comes in
    contact with them.


    Last week in Los Angeles, an unidentified patient
    was hospitalized with an accidental eye infection,
    apparently contracted from someone recently
    vaccinated in the military.

    Across the country, the issue of compensating
    health care workers for time lost if they are made ill
    by the vaccine looms as the largest threat to the
    federal program. CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said
    the agency "is getting closer and closer" to releasing
    a plan to address those concerns.

    But federal disease control experts do not believe the
    vaccine program poses a significant threat to
    immune-compromised patients. Last week, the
    Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
    published revised recommendations,

    reiterating that proper bandaging and other infection
    control procedures should "essentially eliminate" the
    risk of infecting a patient.

    With union hospital workers reluctant to be
    vaccinated, medical giant Kaiser Permanente has put
    on hold its plans to give the vaccine to its first-
    response staffers. Under a "labor-management
    partnership" pact, Kaiser is negotiating with its
    unions over issues such as compensation for lost
    time due to vaccine-related illness.

    "There are some details that still need to be
    negotiated," said Dr. David Witt, chairman of the
    infectious disease program for Kaiser in Northern

    Witt said Kaiser doctors may be more willing to be
    vaccinated than unionized workers, because
    physicians have "a better disability package than the
    average union worker." Nevertheless, he said some
    staffers at his South San Francisco hospital are
    eager to be vaccinated. "Some of them are quite
    angry, but I told them we can't go."

    E-mail Sabin Russell at
  6. by   Anagray
    I have been vaccinated as a child and I decided I will not get vaccinated again.
    If there is an uncontrolled outbreak, I will do it, but it is highly unlikely it will happen.
    Its not that I'm not taking the terrorism seriously, but I feel like a large protion of it is blown out of proportion.
    If we are going to vaccinate against every disease, then we should start buliding bunkers and give out gasmasks.
  7. by   canoehead
    I was vaccinated as a child so I am less concerned with my own health. I do want the hospital to be committed to taking care of those that get sick though. Currently we would have to use our own sick/vacation time for a mild reaction, and be responsible for our own copayments if we need medical attention. If I put my neck on the line to help them out I would expect them to take care of any bills or sick time that result. Until they commit to that I will decline.
  8. by   traumaRUs
    I'm an ER nurse and on the Hazmat team here. The smallpox vaccine only gives immunity for ten years, that is why everyone has to be revaccinated.
  9. by   caroladybelle
    As I am BMT/Onco/HIV nurse - cannot be vaccinated unless off work for an extended time - d/t chance of spreading infection post - vaccination among immunosuppressed patients.

    Also, it took 5 (!) doses to take the first time - Are they going to cover me off work 15 weeks (3 weeks x 5 doses) possibly to get it to take again? I somehow doubt it.
  10. by   ceecel.dee
    Originally posted by traumaRUs
    I'm an ER nurse and on the Hazmat team here. The smallpox vaccine only gives immunity for ten years, that is why everyone has to be revaccinated.

    I haven't heard this! Is there a titre that can be drawn?