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Nevada Among 8 States Suspending Smallpox Vaccination

Mar 31, 2003 | AP

State and district health officials in Nevada and at least seven other states said Monday they are temporarily suspending a troubled smallpox vaccination program.

In addition to the Nevada State Division of Health, the Clark County District Health Department in Las Vegas and Washoe District Health Department in Reno suspended their smallpox programs to give federal officials time to investigate the vaccine's role in three heart attack deaths.

Experts suspect the vaccine is probably not to blame for the heart attacks. Nevertheless, Arizona, California, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, New York and Vermont also have suspended their programs during an investigation.

A ninth state, Connecticut, ordered a two-day suspension. And in Idaho, state officials recommended that that local health districts temporarily suspend vaccinations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told states Monday that it is now recommending that people with heart disease or at risk of heart disease refrain from vaccination. The CDC was sending out new forms to help states screen people for the vaccine.

Nevada officials said they would suspend the vaccination program until new guidelines are issued by federal authorities.

Washoe County employees who are part of the local smallpox response teams had been scheduled to be immunized on April 12, said Wende Latham, assistant division director for clinical and community health services.

"We will reschedule for a later date once we receive clearance from both CDC and the state," Latham said Monday.

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