The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services has received the 9200 doses of smallpox vaccine it requested from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of the preparations to prevent the spread of the disease should it be used as a weapon of terror. Once the Secretary of Health and Human Services declares that the federal government assumes liability for complications, Phase 1 of the three-phased smallpox vaccination plan will begin. It is anticipated that the declaration will be made on Friday, January 24.
“Next week we are planning to start vaccinating our own employees who will be vaccinators or part of rapid response teams pending the appropriate declaration by the Secretary,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, M.D., M.P.H., Director of Public Health and County Health Officer. “Vaccination will be offered strictly on a volunteer basis.”
In compliance with CDC recommendations, the department will work collaboratively with hospital and medical facilities to vaccinate public health and medical response teams which would undertake outbreak control measures should the need arise.
The department has already conducted training sessions with hospital staff to prepare for Phase 1; physicians throughout the county have received information related to bioterrorist threats to assist in early recognition of possible disease outbreaks.
Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 3,800 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $465 million.
NOTE: The health department will discuss its local smallpox vaccination plan and vaccinate members of the department’s emergency response team at a news conference to be scheduled next week. This will be the only opportunity the county health department will hold to demonstrate vaccinations for Phase 1.