Bush Approves Smallpox Vaccination Plan;
News Leaks Attempt to Link
Virulent Russian Strain to Iraq
MEHPA Now Law in 20 States; Homeland Security Act Shields
Vaccine Makers from Potential Litigation
by Joe Taglieri, FTW Staff
[© Copyright, 2002, From The Wilderness Publications, www.fromthewilderness.com. All rights reserved.
May be copied, distributed or posted on the Internet for non-profit purposes only.]
[With media pre-conditioning of the population for biowarfare attacks reaching new levels, a number of inconsistencies are appearing in U.S.
government positions. While the CIA web site's analysis of possible Iraqi threats makes no references to smallpox, other recent stories in the major
media are sounding dire warnings about it. On Sunday December 15, 2002 HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson appeared on CNN to agree that smallpox vaccines
are inherently dangerous and that cabinet members would not be receiving vaccinations even as President Bush promised to be vaccinated with U.S.
troops. Thus far, the U.S. military is the only group subject to mandatory vaccinations. And while Thompson and other federal officials insist that
there will be no federal order directing mass vaccinations of the American public, MEHPA, a federally sponsored law that could do just that is quietly
making inroads in many state legislatures.
Recently, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, a heroic and outspoken protector of civil liberties - himself a medical doctor - has indicated that several
portions of the recently enacted Homeland Security bill do, in fact, make it possible for the federal government to order compulsory vaccination of
the American public. FTW is currently engaged in a detailed analysis of the 484-page bill and will have a complete report soon. - MCR]
Dec. 16, 2002, 16:00 PST (FTW) - The Bush Administration announced Friday its plan to begin vaccinating Americans against smallpox in advance of a
possible biological terrorist attack.
The announcement came 10 days after a New York Times story headlined, "C.I.A. Hunts Iraq Tie to Soviet Smallpox" and three weeks after President
Bush signed into law the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which contains a provision that gives a legal shield to vaccine makers.
Also, the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (MEHPA) has now become law in 20 states.
BUSH'S SMALLPOX VACCINE PLAN
About 500,000 military personnel stationed overseas or likely to be deployed abroad were scheduled to receive the vaccine beginning Friday, followed
in the coming months by between 450,000 and 500,000 emergency healthcare workers who would be the first-responders to a smallpox attack.
The vaccine is a requirement for the military and voluntary for healthcare workers.
Despite the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared smallpox eradicated worldwide in 1980, the president Friday told a news conference,
"We, however, know that the smallpox virus still exists in laboratories, and we believe regimes hostile to the United States may possess this
"To protect our citizens in the aftermath of September 11th, we are evaluating old threats in new light," said Bush.
Though the administration has no knowledge of an imminent smallpox attack, Bush said, "At present the responsible course is to make thorough and
careful preparations should a broader vaccination program become necessary in the future."
Federal health and security officials have been working on a bioterror defense plan for a year now, according to Bush. Through coordination with state
and local governments, procedures are in place to inoculate every American in the event of an attack.
TIMING: THE NEW YORK TIMES
Bush's announcement came just after a Dec. 3 New York Times Story by Judith Miller, which reported an alleged link between Iraq and a weaponized
Russian strain of smallpox.
U.S. government sources told the veteran Middle East correspondent Miller that the CIA is investigating whether Nelja N. Maltseva, a now-deceased
Russian virologist who worked on a WHO smallpox eradication project in the early-1970s, delivered a vaccine-resistant strain of the disease to Iraqi
scientists in 1990.
According to the story, "the information came to the American government from an informant whose identity has not been disclosed. The C.I.A.
considered the information reliable enough that President Bush was briefed about its implications. The attempt to verify the information is
Miller's sourcing rides heavily on information attributed to unnamed "senior American officials" and "administration officials," who seem to
hinge their information on what has been provided by the confidential informant. A distinction is drawn in the piece between these sources and
"intelligence officials," indicating CIA sources were not behind the bulk of this report.
Five paragraphs into the story that appeared on page A18, Miller wrote, "The possibility that Iraq possesses this strain is one of several factors
that has complicated Mr. Bush's decision, expected this week, about how many Americans should be vaccinated against smallpox..."
Despite this story's supposed relevance to Bush's vaccination announcement Friday, the link between Maltseva and Iraq is presently unsubstantiated
and under investigation. According to wire service Agence France-Presse, the Russian daily Izvestia reported Thursday that colleagues and Maltseva's
daughter have denied the virologist went to Iraq in 1990. They also denied that she had access to the specific lab at the Moscow viral research
institute where Russia's 120 smallpox strains are stored.
Colleagues said Maltseva last visited Iraq from 1971 to 1972 and last traveled abroad in 1982 for a trip to Finland.
Izvestia reported Maltseva's daughter Natalia was "shocked" by the accusations against her mother and planned to sue the New York Times, she said,
for tarnishing her mother's memory.
Georgetown and Johns Hopkins' Center for Law and the Public Health, the think tank where this state legislation model was created, reports MEHPA-like
laws have been passed in 20 states, and 16 state legislatures have introduced measures dealing with public health emergencies caused by a terrorist
States where MEHPA laws have been enacted include: Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire,
New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Washington, D.C. has also
enacted an emergency health powers law.
State legislatures where MEHPA has been introduced include: California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi,
Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wyoming.
In Alabama an executive order establishing the Office of Homeland Security for Alabama and the Alabama Defense Security Council was introduced Nov. 1,
2001. "One component of their mission is to coordinate state efforts to ensure public health preparedness for a terrorist attack," according to the
Center for Law and the Public Health, "including reviewing vaccination policies as well as the adequacy of vaccine and pharmaceutical stockpiles and
The Center also reports that state health officials in Alaska "have circulated the model act widely for review and consideration. The legislature has
been asked by Gov. [Tony] Knowles to appropriate additional funds for anti-terrorism activities in January 2002. Additional legislative activity
concerning the model act may soon follow.
Montana's Department of Public Health and Human Services requested a bill to revise the emergency health powers act, which is currently in progress
of being drafted and is planned for introduction in the next session.
And on Oct. 25, 2001 Nevada Senator Ray Rawson introduced a Bill Draft Request that would make various changes to emergency public health laws. On
Sept. 25, 2002, the Legislative Committee on Health Care introduced an additional Bill Draft Request that proposes several changes to the emergency
public health laws.
Center for Law and the Public's Health -- MEHPA Updates: