- The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services began
the first phase of its smallpox vaccination program today (January
31, 2003) by immunizing public health worker volunteers at the War
Memorial in Trenton.
more than 100 scheduled volunteers included physicians, nurses and
epidemiologists from throughout New Jersey, who will vaccinate volunteers
from New Jersey's acute care hospitals at seven non-hospital clinics
across the state over the next month. The first phase should be
completed by early spring.
will form two teams. The Public Health Response Team (PHRT), comprised
of state and local public health workers and law enforcement officers,
will be responsible for investigating possible or confirmed outbreaks
of smallpox. The Hospital Health Care Response Teams (HHCRT), comprised
of clinicians and support staff, will be responsible for treating
initial victims of smallpox.
is a contagious viral disease that is fatal in as many as one third
of cases," said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton
R. Lacy, M.D. "Although there is no specific treatment, smallpox
can be prevented through vaccination and controlled by appropriate
isolation of patients with confirmed illness.
terrorists may possess smallpox and may be willing to use it as
a bioweapon, New Jersey and the entire nation must be prepared.
This first phase of vaccination gives New Jersey the capability
to investigate and treat the first victims of a smallpox outbreak
while more widespread vaccination is performed. New Jersey's vaccinated
response teams will be prepared and available to treat smallpox
victims anywhere in the state."
first person to receive the vaccine as part of New Jersey's plan
is Eddy Bresnitz, M.D., New Jersey State Epidemiologist, Assistant
Commissioner, and Smallpox Vaccination Plan Coordinator. "We
appreciate the efforts of our volunteer vaccinees, hospitals and
local health departments in the establishment of smallpox response
teams. These teams will be critical in response to a smallpox attack."
Jersey's smallpox vaccination plan is based on guidance from the
federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the New Jersey
MEDPREP/Terrorism Advisory Committee, the Infectious Diseases Society
of New Jersey and the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization
Practices (ACIP). It includes input from the New Jersey Hospital
Association, the departments of Law and Public Safety and Labor,
healthcare workers' unions, local health departments and Local Information
Network and Communication System (LINCS) agencies, among others.
was declared eradicated by the World Health Organization in 1980
after a successful worldwide vaccination program. The virus is now
known to exist only in two secure repositories worldwide. However,
authorities suspect it may be in the possession of terrorists who
could use it as a weapon.
vaccine does not contain smallpox, but rather a related, less harmful
virus that confers protection against smallpox. The vaccine has
side effects including fatigue, fever, and body aches.
from the vaccine can be severe in rare instances and especially
in people with certain conditions. Volunteers are screened to exclude
individuals with the following conditions and those who live with
people who have such conditions:
that weaken the immune system such as HIV/AIDS, leukemia, lymphoma,
or most other cancers or organ transplants.
autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, that may significantly suppress
the immune system.
taking, or having recently been treated with, immunosuppressive
drugs such as oral steroids (e.g. prednisone), some drugs for
autoimmune disease, or drugs taken after an organ transplant.
cancer treatment with drugs or radiation or have undergone such
treatment in the last three months.
or atopic dermatitis or a history of these conditions, even in
childhood or infancy.
skin conditions that cause breaks in the skin such as allergic
rash, severe burn, impetigo, chickenpox, shingles, or severe acne.
are being treated with steroid eye drops.
currently pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to become pregnant
in the next month. Any woman who might be pregnant should take
a pregnancy test with a "first morning" urine sample
on the day of vaccination.
of life-threatening allergic reaction to the antibiotics polymixin
B, streptomycin, chlortetracycline and neomycin.
or severe illness (including illness with a fever).
disease, a skin disease that usually begins in childhood.
of serious, life-threatening reaction to smallpox vaccine.
federal government could subsequently authorize a second phase of
smallpox vaccination for additional health care workers and first
responders, such as police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians.
The federal government does not recommend smallpox vaccination for
the general public at this time.