RealNews

Health care workers turning down smallpox vaccine

Despite President Bush’s recommendation, hospitals and health care workers are turning down the smallpox vaccine, worried about the inoculation’s side effects and unconvinced that the threat of a bioterror attack justifies the risk. Federal officials had hoped to inoculate almost 450,000 health care workers in the program’s first month. With the month ending Monday, the figure is coming in at about 1 percent of that goal. Some health care unions have urged members to refuse the vaccine until the government can guarantee compensation for anybody injured by the shot. States are not close to beginning a second stage of vaccinations for as many as 10 million emergency responders and other health care workers. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson is disappointed by the response. “It is absolutely imperative we get more people vaccinated against smallpox to get more prepared,” he told a congressional panel this month. Full Story

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