The President’s Cabinet has approved a new policy addressing
smallpox vaccinations of employees that is intended to protect both
the general Emory population and visiting health care patients.
Beginning immediately, all employees who receive mandatory smallpox
vaccinations—either related to research work involving smallpox
and/or related vaccines, or through the military—are required
to inform the infection control departments at Emory Hospital (404-712-7156)
or Crawford Long (404-686-2351) prior to the vaccination. After
being vaccinated, employees then are required to inform Employee
Health Services, again at Emory Hospital (404-686-8589) or at Crawford
Under the policy, vaccinated employees will be precluded from working
with immuno-compromised patients (AIDS sufferers, for instance,
or newborns in neonatal intensive care units) during the roughly
three weeks it takes for a smallpox vaccination to heal. During
that period, vaccinated employees “must keep their vaccination
site covered with a gauze dressing until the scab separates, wear
long sleeves and wash their hands often.”
“We are interested in doing all we can to assure our fellow
workers that they will not be put into any form of jeopardy should
they be in the presence of those who have recently been vaccinated
against smallpox,” said President Bill Chace.
Though smallpox vaccinations do not actually contain the smallpox
virus, they do contain a live related virus, vaccinia, which helps
the body develop immunity to smallpox. During the three-week healing
period following vaccination, vaccinia can be spread from the vaccinated
individual to others. The policy is retroactive in the sense that
individuals still within that three-week window (anyone who has
been vaccinated since late January) are asked to give notification.
“Our medical consultants believe, and they have so advised
us, that the simple steps we have outlined will prove effective
against the communication of vaccinia,” Chace said.
The University’s policy follows a recent similar policy by
Emory Healthcare (EHC), which will be vaccinating a limited number
of employees. Though EHC is not included in the state of Georgia’s
initial plan to vaccinate health care workers at trauma centers
statewide, later phases of the plan do call for vaccination of EHC
Also, University Secretary Gary Hauk said some 75 active Army reservists
or National Guard members work at Emory, and another 45 employees
are inactive members of those groups.
Betsy Hackman, EHC director of infection control, said the new policies
are “middle of the road” in the precautions they take.
While vaccinated employees will not be allowed to work with immuno-compromised
patients, they will be able to work with patients with typically
functioning immune systems.
By asking employees to give notice of vaccination beforehand, Hackman
said infection control simply wants to keep records of who is vaccinated
and when (in the event of a bioterrorism attack), and to make sure
these employees do not work with immuno-suppressed individuals.
After the vaccination, Employee Health Services will monitor individuals
to make sure they are healing as expected.