HHS and CDC Continuing to Educate Healthcare Personnel and General Public About Smallpox

December 19, 2002

ATLANTA -- As part of an ongoing effort to educate healthcare personnel about smallpox, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will conduct a satellite broadcast and Webcast on Friday, December 20, from 12 to 1 p.m. ET to help prepare potential smallpox response team volunteers to make an informed decision about vaccination. The program will be rebroadcast on January 9, 2003 at 1 p.m. ET.

"People who volunteer to receive the smallpox vaccine need to know about the possible complications associated with this vaccine to assess whether or not they want to be immunized," says CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding. "For instance, those who choose to receive the vaccine need detailed instructions on caring for the smallpox vaccination site to avoid transmitting the vaccine virus to themselves or others, including family and household members."

As the nation's leading public health agency, CDC has extensive experience in conducting vaccination education where the risks and benefits of a particular vaccine are explained in detail to help individuals make informed choices.

Over the past year, CDC has provided a number of educational tools and training programs to public health agencies, clinicians and health care providers regarding smallpox disease and immunization. These include in-person and satellite training courses on proper administration of smallpox vaccine and monitoring and treatment of adverse events.

In addition, CDC has also developed a CD-ROM called "What Every Clinician Should Know About Smallpox," and has distributed materials to assist health care personnel in recognizing and diagnosing rash illness, including smallpox. CDC's Public Health Training Network, and other satellite networks, has broadcast eight hours of smallpox vaccine educational programming to public health professionals, clinicians and others. An estimated 37,000 health professionals viewed this live program on December 5 and 6, and the program continues to be available through live Webstreaming. Efforts are also underway to produce a CD-ROM and video for those who were unable to view the broadcast.

There is also a wealth of smallpox information on both HHS' and CDC's Web sites (www.smallpox.gov; www.cdc.gov/smallpox), including fact sheets on:

· Smallpox Disease

· Smallpox Vaccine

· Who Should NOT Receive the Smallpox Vaccine?

· Reactions After Smallpox Vaccine

· Information on Live Virus Vaccines and Vaccinia

· Frequently Asked Questions

The materials are available in Spanish at www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/smallpox/vaccination/espanol/virus-vivo.asp.

CDC has also established a public information hotline for questions about smallpox and smallpox vaccine at 888-246-2675; Spanish 888-246-2857; TTY 866-874-2646. The hotline staff has responded to thousands of calls about smallpox and smallpox vaccine over the past several months.

HHS and CDC are currently exploring the possibility of a mass media smallpox educational campaign involving public service announcements that will be targeted to the general public.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national and international organizations.