Local News

Wake Health Department Hopes To Ease Fears About Smallpox Vaccine

Posted April 2, 2003 4:04 a.m. EST

— It may be a vaccine that could save lives in the event of a bioterror attack, but three people have died from heart attacks after getting the smallpox vaccine. Now, some health officials are thinking twice.

The Wake County Health Department are still giving health care workers a smallpox vaccine, despite warnings from the Centers for Disease Control that the vaccine could cause heart problems. Officials with the Wake County Health Department say they have vaccined 112 people.

"It's each person's individual choice, so I really think they need to be informed and know about the risks and make the decisions for themselves," said Pete Moore, who received the vaccine.

"We feel it is still safe as long as we go with their guidelines and are very careful with their screening process," said Gibbie Harris, of the Wake County Health Department. "The other part of that is a very careful follow-up with the people that we have vaccinated, and our staff has been doing a very good job of that."

Officials say those who have heart conditions are not eligible to receive the vaccine. No one who has received the vaccine at the Wake County Health Department have reported any problems.

WakeMed, Western Wake, Raleigh Community Hospital, and Durham Regional Hopsital have stopped offering the vaccination. The state has no plans to discontinue the program.