HB 372 requires the Department of Human Resources to offer a vaccination program to first responders (firefighters, EMTs, other law enforcement and corrections officers) who may be exposed to infectious diseases when deployed to a disaster location. However, the program implementation is contingent on the receipt of federal funding that has been approved for the purchase and utilization of these specific vaccines.
Smallpox vaccinations are only offered as part of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - approved state smallpox plan. Georgia's current approved smallpox vaccination plan does not include pre-event smallpox vaccinations for first responders. Although we will not be offering smallpox vaccinations to first responders at this time, if the risk assessment for a smallpox threat changes, we will review and modify the current plans appropriately.
None of the federal bioterrorism grants currently available to the Department will support a program to provide other first responder vaccinations including: hepatitis A or B, influenza, pneumococcal, or diphtheria-tetanus. The Department will take all necessary steps to apply for any new federal funding to support a first responder vaccination program when or if such funds become available.
If the Department does implement a vaccination program in the future, after the receipt of federal funds approved for such purposes, first responders will not be required to participate if they do not desire to receive these vaccinations.
Pharmaceutical company representatives have been contacting local public health officials asking how they plan to undertake the vaccination program mentioned in HB 372. Feel free to share this information with those individuals, should you be approached. Questions can also be referred to Marty Billings, Office of EMS/Trauma, at 404-679-0547.