Skip to Content text only go to search President News Vice President History & Tours First Lady Search
Welcome to the White House.
Government Kids Only Espanol Contact Privacy Policy SiteMap
Receive Email Updates    

West Wing Connections
Policies in Focus

National Security
Homeland Security
Economic Security
More Issues
En Español

Current News
Press Briefings
Executive Orders
Radio Addresses
News by Date
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
February 2001
January 2001


Adorning the Entry Hall mantel are the pets of President George W. Bush and Laura Bush. The Bushes' cat, India "Willie" Bush, and Spot, their English Springer Spaniel, have been part of the Bush pet clan for more than a decade. Barney Bush, a Scottish terrier, was a birthday gift from the President to Mrs. Bush in 2000.
Photo Essays
Federal Facts
Federal Statistics
West Wing
 Home > News & Policies > December 2002
Printer-Friendly Version

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 13, 2002

Fact Sheet: Protecting Americans: Smallpox Vaccination Program

December 13, 2002


Today, the President announced a plan to better protect the American people against the threat of smallpox attack by hostile groups or governments:

Smallpox Response Teams

Under the plan, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

will work with state and local governments to form volunteer Smallpox

Response Teams who can provide critical services to their fellow

Americans in the event of a smallpox attack.

To ensure that Smallpox Response Teams can mobilize immediately in an

emergency, health care workers and other critical personnel will be

asked to volunteer to receive the smallpox vaccine.

The federal government is not recommending vaccination for the

general public at this time. There may be some members of the

general public who insist on being vaccinated now. Our public health

agencies will work to accommodate them, but that is not our

recommendation at this time.

Department of Defense and State Department Personnel

The President also announced that the Department of Defense (DOD)

will vaccinate certain military and civilian personnel who are or may

be deployed in high threat areas. Some United States personnel

assigned to certain overseas embassies will also be offered



Although there is no reason to believe that smallpox presents an imminent threat, the attacks of September and October, 2001 have heightened concern that terrorists may have access to the virus and attempt to use it against the American public. Immediately after these attacks, HHS began working, in cooperation with state and local governments, to strengthen our preparedness for bioterror attacks by expanding the national stockpile of smallpox vaccine. The United States currently has sufficient quantities of the vaccine to vaccinate every single person in the country in an emergency.

The smallpox vaccine, which was routinely administered to Americans until 1972, is a highly effective protection against the disease when given before or shortly after exposure to the virus. Pre-attack vaccination of Smallpox Response Teams will allow them, in the event of a smallpox attack, to immediately administer the vaccine to others and care for victims.

HHS is working with states to identify health care workers and first responders to serve on Smallpox Response Teams. Pre-attack vaccination of these teams Smallpox Response Teams will allow them to better protect the American public against smallpox attack.

The federal government is not recommending that members of the general public be vaccinated at this point. Our government has no information that a biological attack is imminent, and there are significant side effects and risks associated with the vaccine. HHS is in the process of establishing an orderly process to make unlicensed vaccine available to those adult members of the general public without medical contraindications who insist on being vaccinated either in 2003, with an unlicensed vaccine, or in 2004, with a licensed vaccine. (A member of the general public may also be eligible to volunteer for an on-going clinical trial for next generation vaccines).


The President also announced that DOD will take steps immediately to reinstitute vaccination of certain military and civilian personnel. Those personnel who are deployed or who may deploy to certain high threat areas will be vaccinated. The State Department will also offer vaccination to certain overseas personnel.

Although the vaccine is effective if administered shortly after exposure, it may not be feasible during an emergency to vaccinate overseas troops and civilian personnel. Pre-attack vaccination is therefore warranted. Vaccination of military personnel was conducted during WWI and WWII and routinely from the 1940s until 1984. Between 1984 and 1990, vaccinations were provided to many recruits entering basic training.

To read more on the disease, visit To read more on the vaccine, visit smallpox/vaccination/facts.asp To read more on medical conditions that make pre-vaccination unadvisable, visit contraindications-public.asp Persons interested in participating in an on-going clinical trial can obtain additional information at


Printer-Friendly Version

President  |  Vice President  |  First Lady  |  Mrs. Cheney  |  News & Policies  | 
History & ToursKids  |  Your Government  |  Appointments  |  ContactText only

Accessibility  |  Search  |  Privacy Policy  |  Help