Nevada ordered to prepare for smallpox vaccine

In the midst of talks of war with Iraq and possible attacks by al Qaeda terrorists, state health officials were ordered by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to submit plans that detailed how Nevada would deal with a bioterrorism attack.

State officials said Friday that even in the event of a smallpox attack, no one is currently qualified in the state to administer immunizations to the general public.

The report, due Dec. 1, is expected to explain how certain groups, such as emergency first responders and health-care professionals, and the general public will receive vaccinations.

Bob Salcido, Nevada immunization program manager, said he is waiting like everyone else to find out when the state will receive shipments of the smallpox vaccination.

The federal government currently has 80 million doses that could be used or diluted to 400 million doses and distributed. The state is waiting for the release of doses from manufacturers in Canada and elsewhere, he said.

The state received a recommendation from the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for vaccinating health care professionals and public safety crews. At that time, the national director did not know at what time that will be started.

Nevada health officials and the FBI have not received any alerts about expedited shipments of vaccines. An emergency management official in Oregon was alerted Friday that three truckloads of vaccines would be entering the state months ahead of schedule.

The order to submit plans to the Centers for Disease Control was issued by e-mail two weeks ago. The state plans to begin "orderly and discreet vaccinations to certain groups," next year, Salcido said.

At this time, no one in the state has been trained to use the specialized needle required to administer the vaccination, Salcido said.


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