Smallpox and Bioterrorism: The Threat, the Risks, and Why the Vaccination Plan Is Stalled

Capitol Hill Briefing
September 17, 2003
12:00PM to 1:30PM
430 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Featuring William J. Bicknell, M.D., Boston University School of Public Health; and Kenneth D. Bloem, Former CEO of Stanford University Hospital and Georgetown University Medical Center
On August 12, a scientific advisory panel for the Institute of Medicine concluded that the Bush administration’s smallpox vaccination plan is too narrowly focused and that the vaccine is too risky to make widely available to the public on a voluntary basis. William Bicknell and Kenneth Bloem strongly criticize the panel’s recommendations, describing one of them as “wrong, irresponsible, and dangerous” and another as straining credulity. In a new Cato Briefing Paper, “<a href=”/pubs/briefs/bp85.pdf”>Smallpox and Bioterrorism,</a>” Bicknell and Bloem observe that recent U. S. military experience with more than 450,000 vaccinations demonstrates that the smallpox vaccine is safe when administered with care to healthy adults. Has a risk-averse culture in the public health community seriously limited our nation’s ability to rapidly contain smallpox in the event of a bioterrorist release? Please join us for a discussion of why President Bush’s plan to protect the nation is stalled and what we should do about it.