Global Vaccine Safety

Safety of smallpox vaccination

Extract from report of GACVS meeting of 3-4 December 2003, published in the WHO Weekly Epidemiological Record on 16 January 2004

GACVS has previously considered the safety of smallpox vaccination.4 The Committee was provided with an up-dated account of the safety of smallpox vaccination, based on 38 759 persons vaccinated in the United States since January 2003, covering 65% of health care workers and at least one health care worker in 45% of hospitals. There is, in addition, a pregnancy registry of 160 women exposed to smallpox vaccine during or immediately before pregnancy, identifiable by testing. Consistent adverse effects reported in smallpox vaccinees have been myopericarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy; the frequency of each adverse effect exceeds what might have occurred by coincidence.