Baton Rouge --- Phase One of Louisiana’s program to vaccinate health care workers against smallpox has ended, and many have labeled the program a success.  

More than 1,100 Louisiana citizens received vaccinations during the state’s first phase of the nationwide smallpox vaccination program.  This number includes 289 individuals who received the vaccine to serve on a public health response team and 816 individuals who received the shot to serve on health care response teams in hospitals. Statewide, 75 hospitals have begun a vaccination program to form these response teams.   

“I commend the state’s public health care and hospital workers who received the vaccine in order to serve on response teams in the event of an outbreak,” said Department of Health Secretary David W. Hood. “The results of this program establish Louisiana as one of the top states when it comes to being prepared for an emergency.”

 Phase One, which calls for health care workers and other first responders to receive a vaccine, began Feb. 13. Health care workers could report to a designated spot in each region to receive the vaccine. The last round of vaccines concluded the weekend of April 3-5.  Employees with DHH’s Office of Public Health still are performing some vaccinations for health care workers who could not receive a vaccine during the specified time period but in general, Phase One has ended.

 DHH and other state health care agencies are awaiting federal guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before beginning Phase Two of the smallpox inoculation program. Phase Two calls for police, firemen and other responders to receive vaccinations.  Phase Three would call for the general public to be vaccinated; however, there are no plans to vaccinate the general public at this time.