February 13, 2003
HONOLULU - The Department of Health has received 4,500 doses of
the smallpox vaccine from the federal Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) to prepare for vaccinating healthcare and public
health workers against smallpox, State Health Director, Chiyome Fukino,
M.D., announced today.
"The risk of a smallpox attack is low, but the consequences of such
an event would be great," Fukino said. "Hawaii is preparing to
vaccinate teams of healthcare and public health workers as part of a
plan to protect the public from any potential smallpox attack."
In response to guidance from the federal government, the
Department of Health (DOH) developed a plan for providing vaccinations
against smallpox. Phase 1 includes vaccination, on a voluntary basis,
for Health Department employees at state and district health offices
and hospital healthcare workers. During Phase 2, the smallpox vaccine
will be offered to other health care providers and first responders
including fire and police crews. It is not recommended that the general
public receive the smallpox vaccination at this time.
The DOH is making final preparations to begin smallpox
vaccinations. DOH will vaccinate health department and hospital
personnel next month. Fukino said healthcare workers need time to
evaluate information on the vaccine, speak with their families, and
consult with their physicians before deciding to volunteer for a
"Hawaii will begin using the FDA licensed smallpox vaccine when it
can be done safely and effectively," Fukino said. "We are taking
every precaution and conducting thorough screenings to ensure the well
being of our public health and hospital response teams."
Public health response teams include physicians,
interviewers/investigators, laboratory specialists, nurses, and staff
assistants. Hospital response teams involve physicians (including house
staff, primary care and sub-specialists), nursing staff, respiratory
and radiology technicians, infection control professionals, and
security and housekeeping personnel.
Rich Meiers, President and CEO of Healthcare Association of Hawaii,
said "We are glad to be working closely with the DOH and are proud that
so many health care professionals have volunteered to serve their
communities". Hawaii has one of the highest hospital participation
rates in the nation with over 90% of all hospitals on board.
Collaboration of both public health and hospital professionals is a
product of a joint planning effort between the DOH and the Healthcare
Association of Hawaii.
In January, CDC trained public health nurses to administer the
smallpox vaccination and monitor those who are vaccinated. In
addition, DOH will educate people receiving the vaccination, along
with their families, on how to care for the vaccination site to prevent
transmission to those not vaccinated.
"It is important that public health and hospital medical staff are
prepared to protect Hawaii’s people," Fukino said. "We are
carefully coordinating with the federal, state, county and local
agencies to build an infrastructure of protection for our island
Detailed information about the virus and Hawaii’s planning
efforts are also available through the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention at www.cdc.gov/smallpox and via the DOH web site at http://www.state.hi.us/doh. For more
information on Healthcare Association of Hawaii Emergency Management
Systems, visit http://www.hah-emergency.net.
For more information, contact:
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