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Smallpox compensation approved

Emergency response workers who developed health problems from smallpox vaccinations can seek compensation from the federal government, the Health and Human Services Department said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Emergency response workers who developed health problems from smallpox vaccinations can seek compensation from the federal government, the Health and Human Services Department said Friday.

More than 38,000 medical care workers, police, firefighters and other emergency responders have been vaccinated against smallpox under an emergency response plan that went into effect last January. Officials estimate that about 2 percent of those vaccinated experienced some sort of medical injury as a result.

Under rules announced Friday, those injured by the smallpox vaccine will be able to seek compensation from a $42 million program that provides both financial and medical benefits.

Injuries covered under the program range from skin reactions and scarring around the inoculation site, to brain inflammation, to heart reactions to death. The final rules include a detailed list of the covered injuries.

The program also provides benefits for persons who may have become ill from contact with a vaccinated person, and for the survivors of eligible workers who died from injuries from the smallpox vaccine.

The agency said it was making special efforts to let everyone who was vaccinated against smallpox know about the compensation program.

The regulations go into effect next Tuesday when they are published in the Federal Register.

Claimants may download the required documents and get other information from a web site: www.hrsa.gov/smallpoxinjury.