State, Local Health Officials Cut Budgets of HIV/AIDS, Prenatal Care Programs To Fund Smallpox Vaccinations
State and local health officials have begun cutting the budgets of prenatal care, HIV/AIDS prevention and tuberculosis tracking programs to provide funding and staffing for smallpox vaccination programs that aim to innoculate 500,000 first-response emergency workers against the disease, the Washington Post reports. According to a National Association of County and City Health Officials report released last month, approximately 50% of the 539 health departments that were surveyed have "deferred, delayed or canceled" STD clinics, checkups for low-income children or other "more traditional projects." For example, health department officials in Seattle are "belatedly scrambling" to curb an increase in STDs, according to the Post. "We would have been on this faster and more effectively if I could have put a critical mass of infectious-disease people on this rather than on smallpox," Alonzo Plough, Seattle and King County Public Health Department director, said. Health officials are even more concerned about what will happen when President Bush's "ambitious" smallpox program -- first announced on Dec. 13, 2002 -- enters its second stage, which calls for as many as 10 million police, fire and rescue workers to be vaccinated, a prospect that seems "overwhelming" to many health officials, the Post reports (Connolly, Washington Post, 3/10). The full NACCHO report is available online.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.