Frontlines | Smallpox Vaccination and (Unnecessary?) Caution

Courtesy of CDC

People with eczema and immunosuppressed patients need to forego voluntary smallpox vaccination to avoid adverse effects or even death. Now, another group joins them: those with heart trouble. Recently, three deaths occurred due to myocardial infarction shortly after vaccination, and adverse cardiac events have occurred in six civilians and 12 military personnel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that people at risk for heart disease should be excluded from the voluntary vaccination program. "The relation between smallpox vaccine and the coronary event observed in the civilian vaccination program is unclear," according to the CDC ("Cardiac adverse events following smallpox vaccination--United States, 2003," Morbid Mortal Wkly Rep, 52:248-50, March 28, 2003).

However, D.A. Henderson, a smallpox vaccine expert and adviser to US Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, sees the cardiac-related events and the heart...

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