Bush's Smallpox Vaccine Speech (Summary & Text)
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BUSH ANNOUNCES SMALLPOX VACCINATION PLAN
Friday, December 13, 2002; 2:28 PM
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush on Friday announced a plan to start
vaccinating American soldiers and civilians, including himself, against
smallpox as a precaution against an enemy attack.
"Our government has no information that a smallpox attack is imminent, yet
it is prudent to prepare for the possibility that terrorists who kill
indiscriminately would use diseases as a weapon," Bush said in announcing
The plan would begin with vaccinations of about 1 million soldiers and
health-care workers, and expand to millions more emergency personnel. The
vaccine would eventually be offered to the general public on a voluntary
Bush said the vaccinations will start with the military and other U.S.
government personnel in high-risk portions of the world.
"I will receive the vaccine along with our military," Bush said, while
noting neither his family nor his staff would receive it because health
officials do not believe vaccination is necessary for the general public.
TEXT OF BUSH'S SMALLPOX VACCINE SPEECH
December 13, 2002
Here is the text of President Bush's statement on Friday ordering members of
the U.S. military serving in high-risk areas to take the smallpox vaccine:
BUSH: Good afternoon.
Since our country was attacked 15 months ago, Americans have been forced to
prepare for a variety of threats we hope will never come.
We have stepped up security at our ports and borders. We've expanded our
ability to detect chemical and biological threats. We've increased support
for first responders. We've made public our-made our public health care
system better able to track and treat disease.
By preparing at home and by pursuing enemies abroad we're adding to the
security of our nation.
I thank the members of my team who are here who are adding to the security
of our nation.
One potential danger to America is the use of the smallpox virus as a weapon
of terror. Smallpox is a deadly but preventable disease.
Most Americans who are 34 or older had a smallpox vaccination when they were
children. By 1972, the risk of smallpox was so remote that routine
vaccinations were discontinued in the United States.
In 1980, the World Health Organization declared that smallpox had been
completely eradicated, and since then there has not been a single natural
case of the disease anywhere in the world.
We know, however, that the smallpox virus still exists in laboratories. And
we believe that regimes hostile to the United States may possess this
To protect our citizens in the aftermath of September the 11th, we are
evaluating old threats in a new light.
Our government has no information that a smallpox attacks (sic) is imminent.
Yet it is prudent to prepare for the possibility that terrorists who kill
indiscriminately would use diseases as a weapon. Our public health agencies
began preparations more than a year ago.
Today, through the hard work of our Department of Health and Human Services,
ably lead by Tommy Thompson, and state and local health officials, America
has stockpiled enough vaccine, and is now prepared to inoculate our entire
population in the event of a smallpox attacks (sic).
Americans and anyone who would think of harming Americans can be certain
that this nation is ready to respond quickly and effectively to a smallpox
emergency, or an increase in the level of threat.
Today I am directing additional steps to protect the health of our nation.
I'm ordering that the military, and other personnel who serve America in
high-risk parts of the world, receive the smallpox vaccine. Men and women
who could be on the front lines of a biological attack must be protected.
This particular vaccine does involve a small risk of serious health
As commander in chief, I do not believe I can ask others to accept this risk
unless I am willing to do the same. Therefore, I will receive the vaccine
along with our military.
These vaccinations are a precaution only and not a response to any
information concerning imminent danger.
Given the current level of threat and the inherent health risks of the
vaccine, we have decided not to initiate a broader vaccination program for
all Americans at this time. Neither my family nor my staff will be receiving
the vaccine because our health and national security experts do not believe
a vaccination is necessary for the general public.
At present, the responsible course is to make careful and thorough
preparations in case a broader vaccination program should become necessary
in the future.
There may be some citizens, however, who insist on being vaccinated now. Our
public health agencies will work to accommodate them.
But that is not our recommendation at this time.
We do recommend vaccinations for one other group of Americans that could be
on the front lines of a biological attack. We will make the vaccine
available on a voluntary basis to medical professionals and emergency
personnel and response teams that would be the first on the scene in a
These teams would immediately provide vaccine and treatment to Americans in
a crisis. And to do this job effectively, members of these teams should be
protected against the disease.
I understand that many first responders will have questions before deciding
whether to be vaccinated. We will make sure they have the medical advice
they need to make an informed decision.
Smallpox is a serious disease and we know that our enemies are trying to
inflict serious harm. Yet there is no evidence that smallpox imminently
threatens this country.
We will continue taking every essential step to guard against the threats to
our nation. And I deeply appreciate the good efforts of state and local
health officials who are facing difficult challenges with great skill. The
actions we are taking together will help safeguard the health of our people
in a measured and responsible way.
Thank you all.
PREVIOUS NHNE NEWS LIST ARTICLES:
WHEN PARENTS SAY NO TO CHILD VACCINATIONS (12/1/2002):
BUSH TO ANNOUNCE PLAN FOR SMALLPOX VACCINATIONS (11/26/2002):
PROPOSAL TO TEST SMALLPOX VACCINE IN YOUNG CHILDREN (11/7/2002):
PENTAGON HAS SMALLPOX PLAN FOR TROOPS (11/7/2002):
FORCED VACCINES HAUNT GULF VETS (11/7/2002):
FEDS PUSHING TOXIC ANTHRAX DRUG? (10/30/2002):
GI GUINEA PIGS (10/30/2002):
AN EPIDEMIC OF AUTISM (10/19/2002):
VACCINATED PEOPLE CAN TRANSMIT VACCINIA VIRUS (10/17/2002):
ANCIENT & ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES FOR BIOTERRORISM (10/12/2002):
PENTAGON PLANS SMALLPOX SHOTS FOR UP TO 500,000 (10/12/2002):
SMALLPOX VACCINE GUIDELINES READIED (9/23/2002):
SMALLPOX OUTBREAK: WHAT TO DO (8/20/2002):
DOUBTS OVER SMALLPOX VACCINES EMERGE (7/30/2002):
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DR. TIM O'SHEA'S THEDOCTORWITHIN.COM:
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