Volume 19, Number 8

The Bridge

                  April 2003


By Judy Nance, R. N.

Question:Am I still immune to smallpox if I was vaccinated as a child?

No one knows for sure, but recent research indicates you may still have some level of protection, even if you were vaccinated 50 years ago. Researchers studied a small group of people who'd been vaccinated within the previous 5 years because of potential work exposures to smallpox. They compared them with others who'd been vaccinated 6 to 35 years ago or longer. These results suggest that people immunized long ago still have a significant measure of protection against smallpox. ("Mayo Clinic Women's Health Source" March 2003).

There have been numerous articles on how to protect the US population against smallpox. At this time the military and some emergency workers such as police officers and firefighters have been immunized. Hospital and Health Department personnel are the next to receive smallpox vaccinations; however, there have been three deaths in health care workers who had heart disease and received the vaccine. There may be a correlation with the vaccine and their deaths. More studies will be conducted concerning these deaths.

Dr. Michael Osterholm, professor/scientist at the University of Minnesota, helped design the three-phase smallpox plan-to vaccinate 500,000 health workers now, up to 10 million others at a later date and eventually to offer the vaccine to the entire population, all on a voluntary basis. For years Osterholm has been trying to awaken the medical world to the threat of attacks with smallpox or other deadly agents. In 2002, he published a book, "Living Terrors: What America Needs to Know to Survive the Coming Bioterrorist Catastrophe". Osterholm is now a leading bioterrorism adviser for the Bush administration. Excepts from "Mountain West Nurse Week" February 2003.