Replacement Potassium Iodide Supply to Be Distributed by Vermont Department of Health

For Immediate Release: August 20, 2007
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON – New supplies of potassium iodide have arrived in Vermont and will be distributed to people in the six towns around the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station. The towns are Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, Halifax, Marlboro and Vernon.

The new supply will be distributed by mail upon written request from residents. Requests may be made using an application form being mailed to residents the week of August 20, 2007. These new supplies will replace approximately 14,000 tablets distributed between 2002 and 2004 by the Health Department’s district office in Brattleboro, and by several local pharmacies. The 130 mg tablets (the full adult dose) and 65 mg tablets (the full child dose) received from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission are available to anyone who works or lives in the six towns, as part of Vermont’s emergency preparedness effort.

The Brattleboro district office has already distributed replacement potassium iodide to schools and child care centers in the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone around Vermont Yankee. The district office is also working to replace supplies at area businesses and lodging establishments in the coming weeks. New supplies will also be available at local pharmacies.

Potassium iodide (also known as KI) is a drug that can block exposure to radioactive iodine if taken in an appropriate and timely dosage. Radioactive iodine is one of the contaminants that may be released in a nuclear accident or similar event. Exposure to radioactive iodine can increase the risk of thyroid cancer.

“Some of the tablets from the original distribution five years ago are marked to expire in 2007,” said Health Commissioner Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN. “The federal Food & Drug Administration has said that the potassium iodide will still be effective up to two years beyond its marked expiration date, but we want people to replace those tablets with a new supply that will not expire for another five to seven years.”

Potassium iodide specifically protects one organ (the thyroid gland) from one type of radiation (radioactive iodine). Emergency directives such as evacuation, staying indoors, or restricting the use of contaminated food and milk are designed to minimize human exposure to all types of harmful radiation that could be released in a nuclear emergency. Taking potassium iodide is not a substitute for following emergency plans and directives.

The distribution program provides one dose per person, and participation is voluntary. Parents/guardians are also eligible to receive a free dose for each child in their family. Public schools, nursing homes, hospitals, some childcare providers and private schools also have KI distribution plans in place.

The state also has a supply of liquid KI, which is easier to administer to children and others who may have difficulty taking tablets. Liquid KI is being distributed to childcare centers and schools.

More information about the Vermont KI distribution program can be located at

http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/rad/KI_program.aspx

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