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IOM: Safeguards are vital to smallpox program
Without protection, HCWs will decline vaccine
Add more safeguards to ensure that the smallpox vaccination program is as safe as possible, a federal panel of medical experts urged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. The CDC should evaluate the program "at every step," including comparisons of safety data related to different implementation in different settings, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) panel said in its report, Review of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Smallpox Vaccination Program Implementation.
The panel also recommended that hospitals stagger the vaccinations to lessen the impact on patient care of worker absences due to adverse reactions or administrative leave. "If the risk of smallpox disease [and thus the benefit of the vaccine] is truly very low, deliberation is key to assuring the safest program possible," the panel said. The IOM panel also said the CDC should take these steps:
Greater protection for health care workers who suffer adverse reactions would lead to greater participation, the panel noted. "Without reimbursement for these losses, the committee fears that some, perhaps many, public health and health care workers will decline vaccination, thus undermining the effectiveness of the program’s implementation," the panel said. "Public health and health care workers who are considering vaccination need accurate information about the rights and protections that are available to them under their state’s workers’ compensation law."
(Editor’s note: To read the IOM report, go to: www.nap.edu/catalog/10601.html.)