Smallpox - Prevention
Variola - major and minor; Variola
Many people were vaccinated against smallpox in the past. The vaccine is no longer given to the general public because the virus has been wiped out. The possible complications and costs of the vaccine outweigh the benefits of taking it.
If the vaccine needs to be given to control an outbreak, it can have a small risk of complications. Some complications are mild, such as rashes. Others are more serious.
Only military personnel, health care workers, and emergency responders may receive the vaccine today. Smallpox vaccination policies and practices are currently being reviewed.
- Reviewed last on: 6/23/2011
- Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Damon, Inger. Orthopoxviruses: vaccinia (smallpox vaccine), variola (smallpox), monkeypox, and cowpox. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier;2005:chap 129.
Frequently asked questions about smallpox vaccine. CDC Emergency preparedness and response. Accessed February 7, 2007.
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