President Bush announced a national plan to begin smallpox vaccination
in early 2003. New Jersey fully supports the national plan, and
has already begun implementing the programs and processes needed
to carry out each phase of vaccination called for by the President.
will begin with military personnel and volunteers from among the
nation's public health and health care workers. A second phase will
include first responders who could come in contact with a smallpox
victim, including members of the police, fire and emergency medical
services. Eventually, all Americans will be given the opportunity
to receive vaccination after the federal government has licensed
additional vaccine in early 2004.
mass immunization capability was one of the recommendations of the
MEDPREP/Terrorism Advisory Committee, which I have chaired since
it was formed in November 2001 by then Governor-Elect McGreevey.
This team of the state's leading experts in health care, public
health and emergency management has developed an agile, coordinated
and comprehensive bio-terrorism preparedness and response plan for
Jersey submitted its smallpox vaccination preparedness plan to the
federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on December
9 for review. This plan will serve as the blueprint for public health
officials, hospital staff, emergency workers and the public to follow
in the event of an outbreak of smallpox.
first step for New Jersey will be to vaccinate up to 15,000 public
health and health care workers beginning in late January. These
volunteers will then serve on Public Health and Hospital Health
Care Response Teams which will be responsible for carrying out subsequent
vaccination programs, investigating potential smallpox cases, and
caring for any victims should the need arise.
support of the vaccination program, New Jersey on Wednesday carried
out the first public test of our innovative New Jersey Vaccination
Information Tracking and Logistics System (NJ-VITALS), which is
one of the key programs New Jersey has implemented to address the
threats of bioterrorism. The successful test confirms that New Jersey
is prepared to begin the first phase of vaccination, and will soon
have the ability to implement a mass vaccination program if necessary.
Jersey is in the process of implementing the nation's only non-interruptible
radio network linking all 85 acute care hospitals, county health
and LINCS offices, and more than 20 state agencies. This network
will provide organizations responsible for responding to an emergency
with the ability to initiate and maintain the uninterrupted communication
necessary for an agile and coordinated response.
addition, New Jersey is one of the first states to implement bio-terrorism
rapid response teams comprised of health care experts who can be
dispatched anywhere in the state to investigate a health emergency,
such as a suspected smallpox case, within hours. This system has
already been employed and has worked effectively and efficiently.
week, five public health officials from around the state will attend
a day-long vaccination training course at the CDC in Atlanta. They
will then act as "premiere educators" to train the public
health and health care workers in New Jersey who will be participating
in the statewide vaccination program.
from the Department of Health and Senior Services also will be meeting
next week with representatives from each of the 85 acute care hospitals
in the state to review the state's plan and discuss resources for
State of New Jersey is coordinating its preparedness efforts with
county and local health authorities and the federal CDC.