Follow the Money!
The smallpox scare is just another money making scheme for various experts and government bureaucrats. From the very beginning I've been afraid that this was the case, and that there was no actual drive to combat a real threat.
First, check out my copy of a Washington Post story HERE.
You will see that many localities are out of money for the smallpox program. Why? "stockpiling medications, hiring epidemiologists and other bioterrorism experts and upgrading the public health laboratory" "improving computer systems, training medical workers and adding emergency hospital beds"
In other words, new toys for everybody, and more servants for the kingdoms. The article goes on to demonstrate that current plans call for immunizing hospital workers, and that police, fire and EMS personnel will be vaccinated if additional funds are found.
YOU *******! Edited for strong language
I knew this was going to happen. When I saw plans to vaccinate hospital janitors, and hospital unions demanding two days off with pay for their vaccinated members, I just knew.
This is the deal, folks. You're contagious with smallpox when you feel awful. Most people will feel so bad that they will not be able to move around. So, they'll call the ambulance. And I'll show up, unvaccinated, along with the fire guys and the cops. And some ward clerk in OB/GYN will have received the vaccine.
And, to all the little kingdom builders in health departments and hospitals everywhere, GET A FREAKIN CLUE!
If smallpox breaks out, everyone working on VD, you'll be working on smallpox. All the lab space devoted to the flu and to West Nile will be devoted to smallpox. The bureaucrats assigned to getting teen age mothers maternity care will be working on smallpox. The guy with the toothache at the Emergency Department will be told to go home and get a life because they'll all be working on smallpox!
You don't need a new lab, a new laptop, more personnel. You'll all be working on smallpox!
I'll say it again. The smallpox scare is being promoted by people at the trough waiting for Uncle Sam's feed truck to fill it up. Is it possible that we could be attacked by terrorist using smallpox. Yep. Are we already under attack by terrorists sucking on Uncle Sam's teats? You bet! This is a manufactured scare, and if we are really attacked, my EMT butt is in a sling because all the wrong things will have been done.
UPDATE 12/27/02 1:34 P.M. est:
an e-mail from a blogging doctor:
Thanks. I linked to your post in an update to my original one. You're exactly right. EMT's will be exposed because people will call them to take them to the hospital. And primary care physicians will be, too, because others will go to the office instead of the ER. Yet, no one's talking about vaccinating them, either. Only about the emergency room personnel and "bioterrorism response teams" - whatever they are.
UPDATE 12/31/02 8:54 a.m. EST:
Another blogging doctor with a different view:
Thanks for the clarification. When I read "And I'll show up, unvaccinated," I thought, for some reason that you were implying you would not opt to get the vaccine and, due to your responsibility as an EMT, would still be required to answer the call, rather than you would not have timely access to the vaccine.
It's not a perfect solution, but the Administration has implied that, if you ask loudly enough, you might be able to get a hold of the vaccine ahead of time. It might not offer a solution to all of your bretheren, but it is a start.
However, I have to disagree with you about how "all the computers and lab equipment" won't matter in an outbreak. Absent better computers and lab equipment in local health departments - some local health departments don't even have fax machines - then doing accurate, rapid epidemiologic tracking of cases/exposures and rapid diagnosis of samples would be impossible.
FYI, an alternative proposal for handling smallpox outbreaks will be published in the New England Journal of Medicine at the end of January (the link is to an Adobe file): HERE. This proposal, if implemented, would alleviate some of the concerns you raise about hospital employees.
Scroll down to December 27 for his post on this topic.
Chuck Simmins <email@example.com> wrote:
Hi, thanks for reading my post. I never said, however, that I would
decline the vaccine. My wife insists that I get it, and I will, if only
to calm her fears. I have had the original vaccination, so my risk of
any side effects ought to be tiny.
The news story that I cited, and my concerns about it, relate to the
several quotes that indicated that because the funds had been spent
elsewhere, only enough money was left to vaccinate a select number of
hospital workers. I think we can both agree that fire, police and EMS
personnel have the highest risk of exposure in the event of a smallpox
epidemic. So, why aren't they number one for vaccinations?
A smallpox outbreak would be a situation unlike any the United States
has faced in generations. Spanish Flu would be the last, I'd guess. I
would hope that all available resources would be mobilized to deal with
the threat. That means that a lot of other, worthy public health
programs and lab work would have to go on hold. Hospitals, doctors, EMS,
everyone involved, would have to adapt and change how they did things.
Just doing the laundry at a hospital would become a high risk
occupation. Everything would be turned on its ear, and all the new
computers and new lab equipment in the world won't make a difference in
patient care or containing an outbreak.