South Dakota vaccinates almost 700 against smallpox

South Dakota vaccinates almost 700 against smallpox South Dakota is better prepared for the possibility of a terrorism-related smallpox case, thanks to the state�s vaccination of 682 people to serve on response teams. And in spite of the highly � publicized risks of the vaccine, there were no serious reactions reported among South Dakota�s vaccinees.

�We had a great response from the state�s public health staff and from physicians, volunteer nurses, EMTs, hospitals and the Highway Patrol,� said Gov. Mike Rounds. �In fact, South Dakota is a national leader when it comes to being prepared to deal with smallpox. We have a higher percentage of people vaccinated than any other state in the nation.�

According to the Gov., as of March 14, South Dakota had the highest vaccination rate in the nation, with 9.0 vaccinees per 10,000 population.

�If there is a smallpox event, we now have people who are ready to investigate cases of the disease and operate mass vaccination clinics, as well as health care workers who can take care of any patients,� said Secretary of Health Doneen Hollingsworth. �And the fact that there were no serious reactions means that the screening process worked exactly as it was supposed to in turning away those at risk from the vaccine.�

Vaccinations are expected to continue for the next few weeks until the current supply of vaccine expires and as the department vaccinates people who had scheduling conflicts or were deferred for illness. At the same time, Hollingsworth said the department will carefully assess the vaccination numbers by discipline and region to identify any gaps in coverage that need to be filled. Once that process is complete, vaccinations can begin for other health care providers and first responders. Vaccination is still not recommended for the general public.

Hollingsworth said the vaccinations began Jan. 30 and were offered over the past six weeks in a series of clinics in Aberdeen, Mitchell, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Sturgis, Watertown and Yankton.

�It�s worth noting that if there were an actual smallpox emergency, this whole process would be considerably accelerated. In the event of exposure to smallpox, there are no contraindication to the vaccine so there would be no need for screening,� Hollingsworth said. �The risk of illness and death from the disease is far greater than any risk from the vaccine.�

More information about smallpox is available on the Department of Health web site at www.state.sd.us/doh/smallpox and on the CDC Web site at www.cdc.gov/smallpox.

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