Hospital safely provides smallpox vaccine shots

A detailed review of start-up to follow-up

Significant planning and organization is necessary to accomplish an efficient hospital-based smallpox vaccination program, but it can be done successfully, reports Kathy Lynn Emanuelsen, RN, Med, director of occupational health at Hartford (CT) Hospital. The hospital was one of the first facilities to begin immunizing workers for smallpox, and Emanuelsen’s account of the careful planning required and lessons learned along the way can provide critical guidance for those considering a program in the future.

"Assigning the responsibility for your overall smallpox program to one person or one group of individuals with the expertise to develop programs is essential," she says. "Focused education is the key to a successful program. Flexibility is essential on the part of the vaccinating team."

Emanuelsen recently reviewed her program — from start-up, to immunization, to follow-up for adverse events — as part of a special audio conference, Smallpox Vaccinations of Health Care Workers: The Real-World Experience, sponsored by Thomson American Health Consultants, publisher of Bioterrorism Watch. As of March 3, 2003, 75 health care workers have been vaccinated at Hartford Hospital, she reports. While no serious adverse events have occurred, she reviews the thorough screening and follow-up procedures down to the most unusual questions (e.g., the safety or lack thereof of household pets in the home of vaccinees).

William Craig, MD, Tennessee state epidemiologist, joined her on the program. Craig describes all aspects of the comprehensive statewide smallpox vaccination program.

In addition, William Schaffner, MD, chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN, serves as the program’s moderator and expert commentator on the recently reported cardiac problems among vaccinees and new infection control guidelines to protect patients.

To order a CD of the audio conference, call (800) 688-2421. The price is $299 and offers CE, CME, and critical care credits for your entire facility. When ordering, please refer to effort code #80041.