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December 19, 2002

Target Coming Into Sight If

Target Coming Into Sight

If you were a terrorist with a vial or two of smallpox, and you wanted to cause the largest amount of devastation and disease, where would you go? Atlanta or Richmond would be a good choice. Both cities have large populations, are easy to get to, and have hospitals that have publicly refused to participate in the vaccination program.

What more could a biowar terrorist want? I also like the fact that unelected physicians get to make the decision that effectively hobble the ability of each city's public health infrastructure to respond if and when a smallpox attack occurs. After all, it's hard to treat people effectively if your doctors are all busy dying.

"No. 1, this is not a safe vaccine," said Dr. Carlos del Rio, chief of medical services at Grady Hospital and a professor of infectious disease. "This is a vaccine that has known complications and known side effects."

Not giving the vaccination also has side effects. One of them is the giant target you just painted on Atlanta. At the very center of that target is Grady Memorial, the place you're ostensibly trying to protect. If I'm a terrorist, and I know for a fact that the people who would normally treat the disease I'm going to spread are defenceless against it, who do you think I'm going to attack first?

The assumed death rate for any smallpox vaccination program, according to the article, is fifteen deaths for every million vaccinations. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in the year 2000, the death rate for motor vehicles was about 150 deaths per million. Is the good doctor advising the people under his care not to drive?

I've e-mailed Dr. Del Rio and Dr. Kontos, who has made the same decision for the hospital at VCU. Should they answer, I'll post the reply. I'm not a citizen of either city, but I were, I'd be pissed.

Update: Here's the text of the emails I sent. It doesn't contain the deaths per million info, as I found that after I penned them.

Hello Dr. Kontos/Dr.del Rio,

I just read coverage of your decision not to participate in the vaccination program in the NYT.

If you were a terrorist with a vial or two of smallpox, and you wanted to cause the largest amount of devastation and disease, where would you go? Richmond/Atlanta would be a good choice to start off with. It has a large population, is easy to get to, and now has a major hospital that has publicly refused to participate in the vaccination program.

What more could a bio-warfare terrorist want? Haven't you just made your city and your co-workers a more likely target in the, admittedly unlikely, event that there is a biological attack on the United States?

Thanks for your time,

Bigwig*

*No, I didn't sign it Bigwig.

Posted by Bigwig at December 19, 2002 03:30 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
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