America's New War?
November 9, 2001
ALL Americans could be forced to have smallpox jabs under plans being considered by President Bush, despite fears that such a programme would kill hundreds.
Underlining White House fears about Americas vulnerability to a new wave of bioterrorism, Mr Bush said that he was discussing with Tommy Thompson, the Health Secretary, whether to order mandatory vaccinations.
One of my concerns is if we were to have universal vaccination, some might lose their life, he said. But Im looking at all options, all possibilities.
Authorities in the US have already announced that they intend to stockpile 300 million doses of smallpox vaccine, enough for the countrys 260 million citizens. But last night was the first time that anyone had suggested they would be compulsory rather than used to cover an emergency.
Mr Bush made his remarks yesterday as he was touring the Centres for Disease Control in Atlanta, which houses one of only two officially kept samples of smallpox since the World Health Organisation declared in 1979 that the virus had been eradicated. Earlier this week scientists at the Vektor Institute in Siberia, which holds the other sample, gave warning that underpaid Russian workers could be tempted to sell the virus to terrorists.
The last case of smallpox was in 1977. The vaccine is fatal for one in a million cases.
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