GOP: State to look to feds for smallpox vaccine funds
Published: Wednesday, January 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 1, 2003 at 12:27 a.m.
TALLAHASSEE - The head of the state Senate's new Home Defense, Public Security and Ports Committee said Tuesday she'll seek to have the federal government pay as much of the cost of vaccinating Floridians against smallpox as possible.
Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, was responding to concerns expressed a day earlier by Democrats, who urged Republicans in charge of the Legislature to try to get Washington to pick up the cost of the inoculations because the state can't afford it.
Dockery said a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will pay for the first phase of the vaccinations required by the federal government is already paid for. That phase, covering about 30,000 disease investigators and front line hospital employees starting next month, will cost $3.7 million and will be covered by a $40 million federal grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Smallpox was eradicated in 1980, but fears that leftover stocks could pose a bioterrorism risk led to a push for renewed vaccinations.
Dockery said she expects the second phase of the program, extending inoculation to more health care workers, to also be covered by the federal government but said possible expansion of the program to some members of the general public on a voluntary basis hasn't been funded yet.
That would likely be a couple years away, however, and Dockery said she agreed that the Legislature should seek to have Washington provide federal money for that.
"We don't know what the cost is (for full vaccination) and it's several years away," Dockery said. "But once we come up with the dollar amount, certainly I will be working hard ... to draw down as many federal dollars as possible."
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