St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
  • State targets rise in drug scams
  • State to vaccinate against smallpox
  • Bush allies fill education board slots
  • Graham ponders run for president
  • Jailed cop accused of murder plot
  • Officer kills suspect in struggle
  • Cocoa Beach is vanguard of slow-growth movement
  • Around the state
  • Famed Miami judge 'Maximum' Morphonios dies
  • Orlando's voters to choose new mayor on Feb. 4

  • From the state wire

  • Hurricane Jeanne appears on track to hit Florida's east coast
  • Rumor mill working overtime after Florida hurricanes
  • Developments associated with Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne
  • Four killed in Panhandle plane crash were on Ivan charity mission
  • Hurricane Frances caused estimated $4.4 billion in insured damage
  • Disabled want more handicapped-accessible voting machines
  • USF forces administrators to resign over test score changes
  • Man's death at Universal Studios ruled accidental
  • State child welfare workers in Miami fail to do background checks
  • Hurricane Jeanne heads toward southeast U.S. coast
  • Hurricane Jeanne spurs more anxiety for storm-weary Floridians
  • Mistrial declared in case where teen was target of racial "joke"
  • Panhandle utility wants sewer plant moved to higher ground
  • State employee arrested on theft, bribery charges
  • Homestead house fire kills four children, one adult
  • Pierson leader tries to cut off relief to local fern cutters
  • Florida's high court rules Terri's law unconstitutional
  • Jacksonville students punished for putting stripper pole in dorm
  • FEMA handling nearly 600,000 applications for help
  • Man who killed wife, niece, self also killed mother in 1971
  • Producer sues city over lead ball fired by Miami police
  • Tourism suffers across Florida after pummeling by hurricanes
  • Key dates in the life of Terri Schiavo
  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story

    printer version

    State to vaccinate against smallpox

    Health workers will be the first to be offered the vaccine late next month. The public would have its chance in 2004.

    ©Associated Press
    December 24, 2002

    TALLAHASSEE -- Florida will begin offering smallpox vaccinations to public health and hospital workers soon, and the general public eventually will be able to get them, Florida's health chief said Monday.

    Reacting to the possibility that terrorists could release the smallpox virus, the state will offer the vaccine to health care workers beginning late next month, said Dr. John Agwunobi, secretary of the state Department of Health.

    "Our goal, ultimately, is to vaccinate upwards to 35,000 individuals across the state in such a way that if a smallpox case were to arise anywhere in this state we would have individuals who are protected from smallpox disease . . . who could then respond immediately," Agwunobi said.

    In the second phase of Operation Vaccinate Florida, some 400,000 police officers and paramedics will be offered the shots in the spring. Vaccination of the general public would begin sometime after January 2004. About 10-million of Florida's 16-million people are estimated to be eligible for the vaccine, Agwunobi said.

    Details of the second and third phases must still be worked out and approved by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the CDC notified the state last week that the broad strategy had been approved.

    Vaccination is voluntary, and the state won't try to convince people that they should be vaccinated, Agwunobi said. He said the success of the program wouldn't be judged by how many people participate.

    "If we had even one individual accept a vaccine, that is a success," he said.

    He said he would probably decide to be vaccinated.

    Although there can be an adverse reaction to the smallpox virus used in the vaccine, the risk is relatively small, Agwunobi said.

    "For every 1-million individuals vaccinated, it could be expected that one to three individuals will die," he said.

    However, he said, the risk of the disease, if it breaks out, is far greater than the risk of the vaccine: "If 1-million people came down with smallpox the disease, 300,000 of them could be expected to die."

    Vaccinations have already begun in Florida: This month, Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary was vaccinated and said he hoped most of his department's 1,400 deputies follow his example. Beary made the decision independently of federal or state plans.

    The state's vaccination plan is part of a broader national effort in which President Bush was vaccinated over the weekend. Last week, the president ordered the vaccination of a half-million troops in preparation for a possible war with Iraq, which may have biological weapons that use smallpox.

    The United States stopped giving routine smallpox vaccinations in 1972, but health officials are not sure whether those vaccinated decades ago are still protected. Smallpox was eradicated in nature worldwide in 1980. It kills about 30 percent of the people who catch it and leaves the rest scarred.

    Experts estimate that 15 out of every 1-million people vaccinated for the first time will face life-threatening complications. Reactions are less common for those being revaccinated.

    Typical side effects from the vaccine, which is made with a live virus, include sore arms, fever and swollen glands. In an experimental trial under way in Nashville, about 10 percent of people experienced extreme discomfort, with fatigue, fever, loss of appetite and other flulike symptoms that lasted a day or two.

    Back to State news
    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
    Special Links
    Lucy Morgan

    From the Times state desk