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Smallpox Vaccination Program

In the event of an emergency, there is enough smallpox vaccine to vaccinate everyone who might need it.

Under Phase I of the federal government's plan, Nassau County Health Department has formed multiple Smallpox Response Teams to provide critical services to residents in the event of an attack. To ensure that these Teams can mobilize immediately in an emergency, key team members have volunteered and received smallpox vaccinations. The Department is now coordinating vaccination of critical personnel who have volunteered from all hospitals in the county. These hospital based smallpox response teams will be able to provide 24 hour medical care to anyone with a suspected or confirmed case of smallpox.

Phase II of the federal government's plan will provide smallpox vaccine to first responders including police, fire and ambulance personnel. We expect phase II to begin later this year.

At this time, in the absence of any smallpox disease, smallpox vaccinations are not being offered to the general public. However, during Phase III of the federal government's plan, the vaccine will be offered to the public on a voluntary basis. We expect Phase III to begin sometime in 2004.

Additional information is available on the Centers for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/smallpox or by calling the CDC at 1-888-246-2675 (Español 888-246-2857)

The Smallpox Vaccine

The smallpox vaccine helps the body develop protection against smallpox. The vaccine contains a live virus called vaccinia, which is related to smallpox, though milder. THE VACCINE CANNOT GIVE YOU SMALLPOX. The vaccinia virus is a "live" virus-not a dead virus like many other vaccines. For that reason, the vaccination site must be cared for carefully to prevent the virus from spreading.

There are side effects and risks associated with the smallpox vaccine. Most people experience normal, usually mild reactions that include a sore arm, fever, and body aches. However, a small number of people experience reactions ranging from serious to life-threatening. Therefore, as long as there are no cases of smallpox, it is important to carefully screen people who volunteer to be vaccinated to protect both them and the people with whom they have close contact.

The smallpox vaccine is the best protection you can get if you are exposed to the smallpox virus. Anyone directly exposed to smallpox, regardless of health status, would be offered the vaccine because the risks associated with smallpox disease are far greater than those posed by the vaccine. Vaccination within 3 days of exposure will prevent or significantly lessen the severity of smallpox symptoms in the vast majority of people. Vaccination 4 to 7 days after exposure likely offers some protection from disease or may modify the severity of disease.

Additional information is available on the Centers for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/smallpox or by calling the CDC at 1-888-246-2675 (Español 888-246-2857)