First Smallpox Vaccinations Safe
No Serious Reactions Reported Among First Recipients
Feb. 20, 2003 -- So far, so good. The first round of smallpox vaccinations among the nation's civilian healthcare workers has passed without any reports of serious or life-threatening adverse reactions to the vaccine, according to the CDC.
Today, the CDC released its first surveillance report on the civilian smallpox vaccination program that began on Jan. 24. The federal government has agreed to closely monitor the program for moderate to severe to life-threatening adverse reactions to the vaccine, including the rare transmission of the virus in the vaccine.
A total of 4,213 healthcare workers were vaccinated between Jan. 24 and Feb. 14. No moderate-to-severe adverse or potentially life-threatening events have been reported among this group as of Feb. 18. But seven people who received the vaccine have experienced mild reactions ranging from rash to fever.
To monitor the frequency of adverse events associated with the smallpox vaccination, the CDC and state health departments have established the Smallpox Vaccine Adverse Events Monitoring and Response System. The CDC plans to provide regular updates to the public based on this tracking system.
During the first stage of the U.S. government's smallpox vaccination program, healthcare workers expected to be "first responders" to a potential bioterrorist attack, such as public health officials, emergency room workers and infectious disease specialists, have been offered the vaccine.
SOURCE: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC, Feb. 21, 2003.