RealNews

Smallpox program hits wall in Phila.

Most hospitals in the city do not plan to vaccinate. Questions of liability and sick pay cause resistance. A majority of Philadelphia’s 26 hospitals will not participate in a smallpox vaccination program, a cornerstone of the Bush administration’s homeland security strategy. Jeff Moran, a spokesman for the city Department of Public Health, said yesterday that most of the city’s hospitals did not plan to vaccinate until there was evidence of an outbreak of smallpox in the United States. The reluctance of local hospitals is further proof of the problems facing the administration’s smallpox strategy. In recent weeks, opposition has been growing, stalling the ambitious plan to vaccinate a half-million health-care workers this year. Hospitals are concerned about exposing patients and employees to the medical risks of the vaccine. Unions for health-care workers, meanwhile, want assurances that members would be covered financially in the event of illness. Full Story

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