In the Military
For and about Hawaii's servicemen and women

By Gregg K. Kakesako

See also: For Your Benefit

Soldiers receive
smallpox vaccine

The Pentagon reports that soldiers in the Washington, D.C., region and elsewhere were vaccinated against smallpox disease during the past few days.

Epidemic-response team members at Walter Reed Medical Center, the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., are among roughly 500 medical personnel receiving the smallpox vaccine in the first stage of a mandatory program President Bush announced Dec. 13.

The first vaccinations begin this week, defense officials said, then a break will be taken for the holidays and vaccinations will continue in January for the emergency responders.

Service members by the millions received this same smallpox vaccination during World War I, World War II and up to 1990. The World Health Organization declared smallpox eradicated in 1980 by international vaccination programs. Defense officials believe stores of the smallpox virus are held by several countries for use as a weapon, potentially against the United States and its allies. By international agreement, only two repositories are approved for stocks of the smallpox virus, one at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga., and one at the State Center for Virology and Biotechnology in Koltsovo, Russia.

Smallpox is highly contagious and has no specific treatment. About 30 percent of infected people will die, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Survivors of smallpox can be severely scarred, especially on the face.

The vaccination is the only way to prevent smallpox. Historically, smallpox vaccination protected more than 95 percent of healthy people who received it. Because routine vaccinations stopped decades ago, most Americans either have never been vaccinated against smallpox or are incompletely protected. People vaccinated more than 10 years ago retain partial immunity, but they warrant revaccination to increase immunity, the plan says.

During a vaccination, a two-pronged needle presses against the skin several times, usually in the upper arm. If the vaccination is successful, a red, itchy bump will appear in three to four days to be followed by a white blister. The live virus in the vaccine, Vaccinia, stays on the surface of the skin until the vaccination site heals.

Retired Brig. Gen. Ralph E. "Chip" Parker, former commanding general of Marine Corps Bases Hawaii, has joined CSI Aviation Services Inc. as executive vice president. Parker also is an experienced naval aviator with more than 3,000 hours flight time and commanded Marine Aircraft Group 16 between 1993 and 1995. He holds a master's degree in safety management from the University of Southern California. Parker will be responsible for the company's marketing, sales, operations, and special contracts divisions and will be stationed in Albuquerque, N.M.

The USS Missouri will be closed on Christmas Day and Jan. 1.

"In the Military" was compiled from wire reports and other
sources by reporter Gregg K. Kakesako, who covers military affairs for
the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. He can be reached can be reached by phone
at 294-4075 or by e-mail at

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