S.D. Health Department vaccinates 37 for smallpox The Department of Health vaccinated 37 of its nurses and other staff for smallpox Jan. 30 as a first step in the state's smallpox response plan. The plan's first phase calls for vaccinating volunteer public health and health care response teams that could respond to a smallpox outbreak.
Procedure calls for each individual's vaccination site to be evaluated seven days after the vaccine is given to monitor for adverse events and determine vaccine "take." Vaccine take means the vaccination was successful and the individual has the appropriate immune response to be protected against smallpox.
Once that process is complete the department nurses will vaccinate other health care professionals who have volunteered to serve on public health and health care response teams. Clinics for those response team members will be held starting the week of Feb. 10 in Rapid City, Sturgis, Pierre, Aberdeen, Watertown, Sioux Falls, Mitchell and Yankton.
At the request of participating hospitals, the clinics will be offered in three rounds to limit the number of staff that might be away from work at any one time. The clinics will be held at each site over three consecutive weeks. Vaccinations will not be offered to the general public.
Secretary of Health Doneen Hollingsworth emphasized that the vaccination campaign is a preventive measure and that there has been no change in the nation's threat level. Having response teams in place and vaccinated ahead of time assures the state would be ready to take care of initial cases and to investigate and vaccinate their contacts in the event of a smallpox emergency.
"These people are true public health professionals," said Hollingsworth. "They are well aware of the risks associated with the vaccine and are still willing to volunteer in order to protect the rest of us. We can all
be thankful for their dedication."
Additional information about smallpox and vaccination can be found on the department's Web site at www.state
.sd.us/doh/smallpox/ and on the CDC web site at www.cdc.go