Who gets vaccinated for smallpox?
September 23, 2012 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Who, if anyone, gets vaccinated for smallpox now?

Clearly, smallpox is no longer really a going concern. Wikipedia claims that U.S. military personnel who are deployed outside the country are vaccinated, and that it is optional for Defense Department employees. Is this true? I imagine that anyone working with the virus is vaccinated. Who else? Heads of state? Paranoid rich people?
posted by Adridne to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Some info from the CDC:

posted by entropone at 2:34 PM on September 23, 2012

Here in Ontario, smallpox vaccines are part of the routine vaccinations children receive.
The only people who don't get them are people whose parents don't want them to.
posted by windykites at 2:37 PM on September 23, 2012

Pretty much everyone in the US military (and I would imagine other nations' armed forces as well).
posted by charmcityblues at 2:41 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

I once worked on a pig farm where I was one of the only people from the United States. Every single person from another country (we had people from Mexico. El Salvadore, Guatemala, and others) had the smallpox vaccination. It became a big joke that the reason people from the US didn't have the vaccine was that there was not enough money to pay for it.
posted by catseatcheese at 2:56 PM on September 23, 2012

People who work with pox viruses get them. One of the hosts of TWIV is a pox virologist and everyone in his lab gets it.
posted by kathrynm at 3:40 PM on September 23, 2012

It's been forty years, but besides requiring the smallpox vaccination for military members, the US government wouldn't send military families to bases outside the continental US without it.

(When my father got assigned to Pearl Harbor, I almost got left behind because of fears the vaccine would react badly with the rest of the medicines this former sickly child was taking.)
posted by easily confused at 3:41 PM on September 23, 2012

windykites  Here in Ontario, smallpox vaccines are part of the routine vaccinations children receive.

Are you thinking of chicken pox? Ontario does not include smallpox on its immunization schedule. Canada only recommends immunization against smallpox for laboratory workers exposed to the virus.
posted by hat at 3:42 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am so sorry for that error! I didn't check because I just assumed I was right. Thank you for correcting me.
posted by windykites at 3:58 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not people with eczema or atopic dermatitis, that's for sure.
posted by limeonaire at 4:48 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

A decade ago, Israel started vaccinating some healthcare workers and other first responders. I don't know if the practice has continued; at the time, of course, 9/11 was a very recent event, as were the anthrax attacks in the U.S. And terror attacks in Israel itself were much more frequent. So attitudes (and policies) may have changed since then.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 5:35 PM on September 23, 2012

Another reason they don't do it more often, besides the fact that the disease has been eradicated, is that the vaccine can leave scars.
posted by gjc at 5:52 AM on September 24, 2012

I don't know about that, gjc: yes, the size and depth of the scar would vary with the individual, but not by all THAT much..... the largest I've ever seen was about an inch in diameter; the smaller ones perhaps 1/2 an inch. They've varied from flat on the arm's surface to maybe 1/16 inch deep, like a dish. (My own is so flat that even *I* have to hunt to find it.)
posted by easily confused at 5:50 PM on September 24, 2012

I (born in India, spring 1985) received a smallpox vaccination, while my brother (born in India at the same hospital, winter 1988) -- we're both adopted -- did not. Given that India was one of the last holdouts for in-the-wild smallpox outbreaks, my assumption is that only persons of national security interests will have been vaccinated since then. I'd bet also that the more conservative and/or paranoid countries (US? France? Russia?) would have more groups deemed vital to national security for vaccination purposes.
posted by tivalasvegas at 7:01 PM on September 24, 2012

Thank you all, this is fascinating.
posted by Adridne at 9:27 AM on September 25, 2012

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