In an effort to give the federal smallpox vaccination campaign a badly needed boost, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said the department will immediately release $100 million in federal funding to assist states with the slow-moving initiative. States have largely viewed the federal program, announced by President Bush in December, as an unfunded mandate. A General Accounting Office report last week said the campaign has placed heavy demands on local health agencies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that the federal government underestimated the program's cost at $13 per shot when in reality it has cost $204 to $265 per shot. The funding announced today is in addition to $1.1 billion in fiscal 2002 and $1.4 billion in fiscal 2003 for states' bioterrorism preparedness efforts. As of April 25, about 35,000 public health and healthcare workers had received the smallpox vaccine, compared with the federal government's initial hope of vaccinating 450,000 to 500,000 workers. The CDC now says vaccinating 50,000 public health and healthcare workers may be sufficient preparation for a smallpox attack. -- by Julie Piotrowski
HHS to release more funds for smallpox campaign
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