Md. Considers Smallpox Response Team
Washington Post; A11
Under Maryland health secretary Georges C. Benjamin's frontline disease defense plan, possibly 1,000 pre-vaccinated emergency workers in up to 20 response teams would be mobilized immediately to contain an outbreak of smallpox. Stepping in to replace unprotected physicians and public health personnel, these teams would immediately target the area with massive inoculations against the deadly and highly contagious disease. Team member selection will begin next week, and teams could be in place within six weeks, said Benjamin; but inoculations for members have to be approved by Maryland's governor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Benjamin's proposal is supplemental to the federal guidelines issued earlier this week that called for inoculation of all Americans should a bioterrorist attack occur, which would require the recruitment of 1.3 million or more pre-vaccinated volunteers to staff health clinics at least 16 hours a day for 7 days minimum. Benjamin regards his Maryland plan as one that will prepare the state as adequately as possible, calling it a program that may mean the "difference between absolute chaos and controlled disorder" should a bioterrorism attack occur.