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Illinois Suspends Smallpox Vaccinations

Mar 28, 2003 | AP Illinois public health officials suspended smallpox vaccinations Thursday because of fears they cause heart problems.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is trying to determine whether there's a link between the vaccination and cardiac problems in seven people nationwide who have received the vaccination.

Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Jena Welliever said the state is temporarily stopping its program to vaccinate 6,000 health care workers who might have to respond to a terrorist event in which smallpox is spread.

State officials have vaccinated 118 people in Illinois since the program got underway last week, Welliever said. One person has had an adverse reaction but it was not serious, she said.

She said CDC officials are meeting with the American College of Cardiology this weekend and should have more information next week. She expects vaccinations to begin again the week of April 7.

In the meantime, CDC has provided guidelines to the state recommending that people with known heart problems not get the vaccine.

Vaccinations are voluntary and those taking the shots are provided information about the risks, which in a minuscule number of cases include serious illness or death.

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