Smallpox Threat

February 7, 2003 • Volume 13, Issue 5
Should Americans get vaccinated?
By David Masci

Introduction

Responding to President Bush's new smallpox-vaccination plan, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jeremy West vaccinates a member of the smallpox response team at the National Naval Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md., on Dec. 19, 2002.  (AFP Photo/Sybil McCarrol)
Responding to President Bush's new smallpox-vaccination plan, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jeremy West vaccinates a member of the smallpox response team at the National Naval Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md., on Dec. 19, 2002. (AFP Photo/Sybil McCarrol)

The worldwide eradication of smallpox — one of the most lethal diseases in history — stands alone in the annals of public-health successes. But since the Sept. 11 attacks, the prospect of terrorists using smallpox as a weapon has become a real possibility. Intelligence officials say enemies of the United States, including North Korea and Iraq, have obtained the killer virus. In December, President Bush announced sweeping plans to immediately begin vaccinating millions of soldiers and health-care workers, and then to make the vaccine available to the population at large, beginning in 2004. Many public-health experts say the president is taking the appropriate steps to protect the nation. But others warn that the vaccine is too dangerous to be given to millions of Americans when there is no immediate threat.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Vaccines
Feb. 19, 2016  Vaccine Controversies
May 11, 2007  HPV Vaccine
Jun. 13, 2003  Increase in Autism Updated
Feb. 07, 2003  Smallpox Threat
Aug. 25, 2000  Vaccine Controversies
Jun. 09, 1995  Combating Infectious Diseases
Jun. 18, 1993  Childhood Immunizations
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Infectious Diseases
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