OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The state received its first shipment of smallpox vaccine Thursday to inoculate health care workers who could be exposed to the deadly disease in a terrorist attack.
The health department received 500 doses of vaccine along with vaccinator needles and information kits. Eventually the department will receive a few thousand doses, said Dr. Timothy Cathey, state medical director for bioterrorism perparedness.
The first vaccines will be administered Wednesday.
A group of employees from the department's central office and health departments in Oklahoma City and Tulsa have volunteered to be the first to receive the shots. There will be follow-up observations for members of this group.
Vaccinator training sessions have already been held across the state. Smallpox vaccinations are performed by scratching the recipient's skin with a two-pronged needle that contains a drop of a live virus related to smallpox. This virus creates a small scar that indicates immunity to smallpox.
Following the first round of vaccinations, the state will vaccinate health care response teams that would respond to a smallpox outbreak. These teams would be vaccinated so they will be able to vaccinate others and provide critical services if there is an outbreak.
These services would include outbreak investigation, caring for the sick, coordinating and managing response to the outbreak and maintaining public order.
U.S. Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson has directed that states begin such programs.
No general public vaccinations are planned at this time.