ON THE RECORD/The goal: every city should be prepared
At the recent annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) in Boston, members passed a resolution to stress the importance of cities and counties having enough anthrax vaccines on hand for their communities. Irma Anderson, mayor of Richmond, Calif., and chair of the conference’s Children, Health and Human Services Committee, spoke about the resolution.
Q: What was the goal of the resolution?
Anderson: The [federal] Department of Human Services (DHS) has plans to stockpile only a small amount of the current and approved vaccine, and it has no plans to stockpile more than a minimum level of the FDA-approved vaccine to prevent anthrax. The U.S. Conference of Mayors is urging Tommy Thompson, the [DHS] director, to increase the level of approved anthrax vaccines in the stockpile. That’s the concern — that they do not have an adequate amount. [The USCM resolution says that] necessary steps [should be taken] so the cities and counties over the next five years have a stockpile. Our goal was to assure that every city was prepared to have a stockpile adequate for whomever they decide who should have it. We need to keep the vaccine we have available in emergencies.
Q: How do cities normally receive the vaccines?
A: They originally come from the federal government through the state and down to the county. Here in California, we have a good process that goes from federal to state to county to city. And of course on the East Coast, they have to go straight to the cities from the state. Most of our health programs on the West Coast are through the county, but back east, they have a lot of them in the city.
Q: Who should be vaccinated?
A: We believe, as we usually do, that each local government should make that decision. Each program varies within the cities and counties. But here in Contra Costa, [some] were suggesting health personnel that had to take care of patients that might have [anthrax] would be the first ones to [be vaccinated]. That’s the reason they were saying that not only first responders [should be vaccinated]. I know people who have chosen [to be vaccinated] and those who have refused. [Our government] has not made them do it.