The Risks of Smallpox Vaccine
October 21, 2002
The smallpox vaccine itself is dangerous. That is the message public health officials want to get out to the American people.
- Vaccine causes life-threatening reactions in 15 of every million people vaccinated -- even killing one or two of them.
- Up to 50 million Americans -- including babies, pregnant women, people with common skin rash eczema, as well as those with weakened immune systems -- may be vulnerable to the vaccine's risks.
- It was believed that smallpox had been eradicated worldwide as of 1980 -- but it could be reintroduced via a bioterror attack.
- The White House is considering plans to inoculate about 500,000 hospital workers, followed by firefighters, police and paramedics who would be offered the vaccine -- bringing the total to about 10.5 million people.
The vaccine would be made available to the general public sometime in 2004, and that step would be accompanied by a public education campaign. Federal officials working on the overall plan are also considering whether to setup a fund to compensate victims injured by the vaccine.
Source: Marilyn Chase and Greg Hitt, "Ugly Side Effects of Smallpox Vaccine," Wall Street Journal, October 21, 2002
For text (WSJ subscribers)
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