Tyler Hospitals Complete Smallpox Plan

Mother Frances, ETMC and U.T. Health Center in Tyler have joined together to form a "smallpox community task force." This task force immunizes a specific group of medical professionals who would handle smallpox--if it break out in East Texas.

"We basically have a swat team of individuals that are immunized that will be able to staff the hospital," Dr. David Lakey of UTHC explains.

Nurses, doctors and EMS workers, "These would be the front line individuals that would be called upon to care for a patient with smallpox," says Dr. Lakey.

50 people in total, people like William Moore are volunteering to get the vaccine in case of an outbreak, "We do have a few days to get other people vaccinated who may have been exposed to that person," he says. "But, it's limited to just 3 or 4 days."

So, it's good to have a few people who have already had that vaccination who can take care of them. Sylvia Ratcliff says the timing is ironic, as war is underway. But, she is now ready to help. "Someone's got to be here to take care of the patients," says the Mother Frances nurse. "Cause were not sure of what people are capable of."

There is a risk with getting a smallpox vaccine, but everyone vaccinated today have been screened from being in a high risk group; such as being pregnant, HIV positive, or if you have a skin disease like eczema.

But there still is a risk... a risk these people are taking to make sure you're in safe hands. If smallpox were to break out, people infected with the disease would be transferred to U.T. Health Center Tyler to respiratory isolation patient rooms.

Jennifer Brice, reporting.