WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration said Monday it was immediately sending $100 million to states to help them run their smallpox vaccination programs.
The money was included in legislation providing compensation for people who are injured by the vaccine, which carries rare but serious risks.
The vaccination program has lagged in many states. Federal and state officials had anticipated vaccinating about 450,000 health workers in the first month of the program. After three months, just 34,541 nationally had received the inoculation.
States, which are in the midst of budget crises, have complained they do not have enough money to administrate the vaccination programs, prepare for other bioterrorism threats, confront unexpected problems like SARS and run their basic public health programs.
The smallpox money is in addition to $1.4 billion in general bioterrorism preparedness funding for the coming year.
"Because a smallpox attack is possible, we must prepare our public health workers to quickly respond to protect the American public," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said in a statement.
He said he will soon write governors to tell them the money is available.
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