The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking for hundreds, maybe thousands, of employees to volunteer for smallpox shots, director Julie L. Gerberding announced in an e-mail this week.
Various categories of employees, including quarantine officers, veterinarians, information technology specialists, industrial hygienists, public health advisers, nurses and medical officers, "will be asked to consider volunteering to receive the smallpox vaccine," she said.
As everyone knows, there are possible side effects, including at least a 14-in-a-million chance of life-threatening reactions and one-in-a-million chance of buying the farm, for those vaccinated.
But consider, "if an employee has an adverse reaction to the vaccination," Gerberding wrote, "they are entitled to file for worker's compensation coverage." Active-duty Commissioned Corps personnel aren't covered, so they should go to "emergency rooms, primary care providers or military treatment facilities."
Also, employees who claim an injury because of contact with someone who was immunized may be covered, provided, among other things "that they were in the performance of duty when the event(s) leading to the claim occurred."
But those "who feel too ill to report to work should take appropriate leave," she most helpfully suggests. Got smallpox? Take the whole day off.
Remember, "participation . . . is completely voluntary," Gerberding wrote.
It's unclear how many employees are being asked to volunteer because the CDC wouldn't say. One would like to think this is secret so the terrorists won't find out. But CDC communications specialist Curtis Allen said the agency was concerned that a low percentage of volunteers would lead some to conclude the program -- much like the one for emergency workers -- was a flop.
Got that right.
What's My Whine?
Modern technology bites back. On the Web site of Rep. W. J. "Billy" Tauzin (R-La.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, we found the March 12 hearing testimony of Julie Keil, director of hydropower licensing and water rights for Portland General Electric in Oregon.
Keil was bemoaning the terrible mess involved in the relicensing process for plants by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The main problem, naturally, is dealing with "environmental values." Dealing with environmental matters in relicensing fights can take years, she said, and we "must achieve balance. . . ."
This messed-up process, she warns in no uncertain terms, "poses the greatest threat to the future viability" of hydropower itself.
But someone forgot to delete a curious footnote, actually an editing note in a draft, from Keil to "Joel," that being Joel Molina at Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates, who's been advising the power folks on passing new legislation to ease environmental protections.
"Joel, is this critical?" she writes in the footnote. "I think we look foolish whining about a 1% loss. I don't think we have better numbers, but the real issue isn't lost mwh [megawatt hours] . . . but rather the loss of flexibility."
Keil, being from Oregon, is unaware that in Washington you're allowed to whine about anything, no matter how small. Part of the local charm.
Stuarts & Lees Redux
Save your Confederate money! The April Bulletin of the most crusty Metropolitan Club reports the receipt of applications for membership from J.E.B. Stuart IV and J.E.B. Stuart V. And who is their sponsor? Robert E. Lee IV, who else?
J.E.B. Stuart IV, great-grandson of the legendary Confederate general, is a retired Army -- U.S. Army, that is -- colonel now working at a stock brokerage firm in Richmond. His son, a former Army surgeon, is now an orthopedic surgeon in the capital of the old Confederacy. There is a J.E.B. VI, but he's not applying because he's only 11.
Lee, great-grandson of the original, is chairman of the board of A. Smith Bowman Distilleries in Fredericksburg and Robert E. Lee V is athletic director of the Potomac School in McLean.
The Stuarts and Lees are not best buds, J.E.B. IV tells us, but "I've known him [Robert E. IV] for years and we've renewed our relationship every couple years" or so.
D.A. Henderson, the heaviest hitter on the Health and Human Services Department's bioterrorism team, is hanging it up after 18 months, saying he's exhausted from the 80-hour-plus weeks. Henderson, credited with his leading role in eradicating smallpox worldwide in the 1970s, is heading back to the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies, which he founded.
In the Pack for OLC
Word at the Justice Department has five top candidates hoping to replace Jay S. Bybee, who's off today to put on the robes on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, as head of the Office of Legal Counsel. John C. Yoo, a deputy in the office, is said to be the front-runner. Principal deputy M. Edward Whelan III and deputy Patrick F. Phibin are also in the mix, as are Adam G. Ciongoli, counselor to Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, and top Deputy Solicitor General Paul D. Clement.