The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reconsidered its initial goal of vaccinating up to 500,000 healthcare and public health workers against smallpox and now says as few as 50,000 may provide sufficient response capacity in the event of a smallpox attack, the General Accounting Office said in a new report. CDC Director Julie Gerberding told the GAO that her agency plans to provide further guidance to state and local health departments on implementing the program. So far, 33,444 healthcare and public health workers have received the vaccine. According to the GAO report, federal officials are partly to blame for the smallpox vaccination program's slow start. The GAO said the campaign's schedule placed heavy demands on local health agencies and the CDC, and that the government underestimated the program's cost at $13 per shot when in reality it has cost $204 to $265 per vaccination. -- by Julie Piotrowski
CDC scaling back smallpox vaccination goals
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