News Release

February 5, 2003

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HDHHS seeks health care professionals for smallpox training

Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) needs retired and active health care personnel to serve as vaccinators for the Houston Harris County Smallpox Vaccination Program (HHCSVP). Selected health care personnel will be compensated for training and duty.

Federal officials are planning to immunize a limited number of Hospital Smallpox Health Care Teams and Public Health Response Teams. These individuals will increase the preparedness level of the city should smallpox be used as a terror weapon. To qualify, personnel must be medically able and willing to be immunized for smallpox, have a current license and be willing to provide smallpox immunizations at designated sites if necessary. Health care personnel previously immunized for smallpox are preferred, as the statistical rates for adverse reactions are lower for this group. Personnel with immunization experience are also preferred.

"We are seeking health care personnel who have previously been vaccinated with no side effects and who would not be excluded for immunization for other contraindications," says M. desVignes-Kendrick, MD, MPH, HDHHS director.

HDHHS Public Health Response Teams will be immunized for smallpox in February. Immunization clinics for selected hospital personnel will be conducted shortly thereafter. HDHHS has scheduled overview sessions on Thursday, February 13, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 8000 N. Stadium Drive and Monday, February 17, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 1115 S. Braeswood.

Those interested in vaccinating but unable to attend these sessions should contact Veronica Jones, R.N., 713-558-2450, or by email at veronica.jones@cityofhouston.net to begin the medical screening process.

Contraindications for the smallpox vaccine include: pregnancy, immune deficiencies, children in the household under 12 months of age, a history of eczema or atopic dermatitis, or living with a person who has contraindications for immunization.

-30-