Imagine you work in the governor’s office and are awakened with the news that three people in Washington, DC have just been diagnosed with smallpox. No one yet knows how they contracted the disease; but one of the afflicted had, on his way home from a business trip, stopped for the night in your state, where he visited clients, rode on public transportation, ate in a restaurant, and had a drink at a popular night spot. You learn that only 250 health workers in your state have been vaccinated against smallpox and are trained to inoculate others, while another 5,000 medical workers need to be vaccinated in order to implement your state’s response plan. The federal government can deliver the additional vaccine you need to get the job done, along with enough doses to vaccinate every resident in your state, but it will take a few days.
Meanwhile, news of the smallpox infections is expected to leak to the press within hours. Decisions need to be made—now. What would you advise the governor to do? And, what would you advise your family to do?