News FocusPUBLIC HEALTH

Rough-and-Tumble Behind Bush's Smallpox Policy

Science  20 Dec 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5602, pp. 2312-2316
DOI: 10.1126/science.298.5602.2312

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Summary

After months of ideological tugs-of-war over whether to vaccinate the public against smallpox to protect against a bioterrorist attack, the Administration has settled on a compromise that most scientists can live with. On 13 December, President George W. Bush announced the policy: immediate, mandatory vaccination of 500,000 military personnel, and a voluntary campaign among a similar number of health care workers or "first responders." After that, the government would offer the vaccine to up to 10 million additional health care workers, police, firefighters, and other essential personnel--but not the general public.

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