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Highlights

Amid growing concerns about a potential smallpox attack, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with 62 state, local, and territorial jurisdictions to implement the civilian part of the National Smallpox Vaccination Program. The goal is to increase the nation's response capacity by vaccinating health workers for Smallpox Response Teams as quickly as is safely possible. A civilian program using vaccination to bolster bioterrorism preparedness is unprecedented, the health risks are uncertain, and the public health system has had little recent experience with smallpox. Safe implementation of such a program will be complex. GAO was asked to examine implementation and its challenges. GAO reviewed program materials and data and interviewed CDC officials and representatives of organizations involved.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention To ensure that the National Smallpox Vaccination Program successfully develops adequate response capacity for a potential terrorist attack involving smallpox, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should provide guidance and specific parameters to the jurisdictions for estimating response capacity needs and work with the jurisdictions to revise local and national targets for the first stage.
Closed - Not Implemented
The smallpox program is no longer in existence.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention To ensure that the National Smallpox Vaccination Program successfully develops adequate response capacity for a potential terrorist attack involving smallpox, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should provide guidance to the jurisdictions for implementing the second stage of the program.
Closed - Not Implemented
The smallpox program is no longer in existence.

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