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Rumsfeld says he'll take smallpox vaccine

Careful steps would precede Iraq war, he tells Larry King

Rumsfeld on Larry King Live

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In an interview Wednesday with CNN's Larry King, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld revealed his plans to take the smallpox vaccine, which can carry severe side effects, including death.

"I certainly intend to, simply because it's hard to ask people to do something that you're not willing to do yourself," Rumsfeld said, responding to a question posed by King.

President Bush has said he, too, will take the vaccine after ordering vaccinations for some military personnel. The vaccine will be administered to about 500,000 troops deployed in high-risk parts of the world under the first phase of the vaccination plan. The inoculations began this month, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The Defense Department said vaccinations will be mandatory except for those who have medical exemptions.

Because about half of U.S. residents have never been vaccinated and those who were vaccinated are believed to have limited, if any, immunity, the country is considered by some to be especially vulnerable to a biological attack. It is feared that Iraq might have smallpox that could be used for weapons.

Rumsfeld's interview with King was broadcast 9 p.m. EST Wednesday on CNN.

The defense secretary would not comment on the details of Iraq's report to U.N. weapons inspectors, something Bush plans to do Thursday.

"I think I'll let the president make the announcement that he may or may not make, but I think it is pretty clear from the people who have had a chance to take a look at the documents that they are still trying to find things in them that they expected to be there that weren't there," Rumsfeld said. (Full story)

He echoed Bush's words that the administration will take a deliberate, thoughtful approach before declaring war.

"My guess is that the United States will take some time and will talk to some of our friends and allies around the world about the declaration, and share ideas and thoughts about what's in it and what may not be in it," Rumsfeld said.

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