World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Health workers to be vaccinated against smallpox

Health workers to be vaccinated against smallpox

Small teams of health care workers are to be vaccinated against smallpox as a precaution against any potential outbreak in the UK. In addition a small number of specialist military personnel will be vaccinated.

In a written Parliamentary statement, Health Minister John Hutton said:

"Since the tragic events of September 11th, the Department of Health has strengthened its plans against any deliberate release of biological agents, including smallpox.

"We have no evidence of a specific threat of a smallpox attack on the UK. However, it is sensible and prudent to ensure that the NHS can deal effectively with any potential threat.

"There are three components to the Department's preparation for response to a possible smallpox emergency: improved vaccine stocks, a plan of action and a cohort of immunised staff who could deal safely with any potential smallpox cases.

"We have already taken action to substantially increase our stocks of smallpox vaccine and we have recently begun a second procurement to add to these stocks.

"The Department of Health is today publishing an interim plan of action for discussion and comment over the coming month. Under this plan, it is intended to establish 12 Regional Smallpox Response Groups around the UK.

"They will consist of Infectious disease physicians and paediatricians, public health physicians, microbiologists/virologists, acute care and communicable disease control nurses and occupational health staff.

"This core group of NHS staff will need to be immune to smallpox and therefore able to react quickly and work safely with patients with actual or suspected smallpox. Preparations for the vaccination of these key workers is now underway. I expect these vaccinations to be completed by the end of next month. It is intended to vaccinate around 350 health care staff across the UK.

"This will be on an entirely voluntary basis with informed consent. The Ministry of Defence, with whom we are working closely, is planning to vaccinate a similar cohort of specialist military personnel.

Other useful information:

Register for e-mail updates - choose Health and Lifestyle


Health and Lifestyle


Agreement on NHS pay reform
(28 November 2002)

Plans for child-safe medicine packaging
(26 November 2002)

Immigration rules to protect abused
(26 November 2002)

New powers for pharmacists and nurses to prescribe
(21 November 2002)

New drive to stamp out smoking
(20 November 2002)

Continuing to invest and reform public services
(13 November 2002)

Report on surgical deaths welcomed
(12 November 2002)

Change to aspirin advice
(23 October 2002)

Useful websites
Department of Health

"The Plan also explains how smallpox cases would be handled in various scenarios. The Department of Health's primary strategy would be to contain and 'ring vaccinate' around any outbreak. The teams of vaccinated health care staff are central to delivering this strategy.

"These plans are a practical precaution designed to ensure the UK is prepared for any possible smallpox emergency. They are in line with World Health Organisation advice and will be kept under active review.

"Similar interim plans are being prepared for publication by the Devolved Administrations.

"This work has been taken forward under the cross-Governmental Civil Contingency machinery for which the Home Secretary has overall responsibility."

In a separate announcement the MoD says it will offer vaccination against smallpox to a small number of specialist military personnel.

In a Written Ministerial Statement, Defence Minister, Dr Lewis Moonie, said:

"We have decided to offer vaccination against smallpox to a small number of specialist military personnel whose specialisation means they face a greater risk of exposure to smallpox. This will include those nuclear biological chemical specialists and specialist medical personnel who would form the spearhead of our defensive response, including vaccination teams, in the event of a confirmed, suspected or threatened release of smallpox."

The MoD continually reviews the package of defensive measures available to the Armed Forces to protect them against chemical and biological attack. The current assessment is that there is no immediate threat to our Armed Forces from smallpox. However, the consequences of any smallpox release could be very serious, so the MoD continues to monitor the threat closely and take sensible precautions.

Extra info...

The Smallpox Plan - Interim guidelines for Smallpox Response and Management in the Post-Eradication era - has been published on the Department of Health website. The Plan outlines the strategies and approaches that would guide national and local responses to a smallpox emergency.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Tale Of Two Pandemics: Follow The Science And Do Not Forget One At The Cost Of The Other

Covid-19 has posed innumerable health, economic, and social challenges for all, including people living with HIV. It has exposed the fragility of health systems around the globe and has diverted political attention and funding from other infectious diseases like TB and HIV... More>>

UN: Rights Chief Calls For Prompt Release Of Protestors Held In Cuba
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday called for the prompt release of protestors and journalists detained during anti-government demonstrations in Cuba, some of whom are being held incommunicado... More>>

Scarce Goods: Isolating Daraa Al-Balad Threatens 40,000 With Starvation

The siege imposed by the Syrian government forces on Daraa al-Balad since June 24 would lead to serious humanitarian repercussions if it continues, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said in a statement on July 15, calling for lifting the siege urgently and allowing the entry of basic humanitarian supplies... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

Shaping The Future Of Food Systems: Thousands Commit To Dialogues Amidst The COVID-19 Pandemic

More than 130 governments are making food systems a top priority amid the pandemic and committing to an unprecedented programme of Dialogues in the run up to the UN Food Systems Summit in September... More>>

UN: Play:Fair For People And Planet – A Major United Nations Music Activation
organized by the UN SDG Action Campaign in partnership with Music Innovation Hub, Keychange, the city of Milan, the Milan Triennale, and partners from the SDG Music Network, will be held at an unexpected location in the center of Milan, Italy, taking into account safety measures with a limited on-site audience consisting of activists and fans... More>>

UN: Next 18 Months Seen As Pivotal In Global Efforts To Achieve Key Goals

Next 18 months seen as pivotal in global efforts to reverse punishing pandemic impacts and boost actions to achieve key goals - Even as pandemic erases decades of gains in development, response efforts show signs of renewed global commitment to accelerate SDG progress... More>>