Introduction

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Government Response to a Bio-Terror Attack

"Emergency Response to a Smallpox Attack: The Case for Mass Vaccination" begins by outlining the current Federal policy regarding bio-terror attack. In particular, what is the planned response in the case that a terrorist initiates a smallpox outbreak in a large U.S. city? Briefly, the Government plans to begin by quarrantining suspected smallpox cases, locating individuals who have had contact with infected cases for vaccination, and vaccinating more broadly only if the outbreak cannot be contained by these measures.

The Government policy is essentially a combination of two very different strategies. These are commonly referred to as a Trace Vaccination (or Ring Vaccination) policy and a Mass Vaccination policy. The first of the two is conservative in that it involves vaccinating as few people as possible at every moment. A person gets placed on the vaccination queue at a local hospital only if she has been identified as having contacted someone diagnosed with smallpox. The second policy, by contrast, entails mass-vaccinating the entire population of the city as fast as possible, without regard to order.

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