Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Women's Health

Font Size

Smallpox: Should Everyone Be Vaccinated?

Study Says 'Yes' -- If Biological Terrorist Attack Has Occurred
WebMD Health News

July 10, 2002 -- America is gearing up for the worst-case scenario -- a deadly smallpox attack. The best defense is mass inoculation, with all U.S. residents rolling up their sleeves as soon as there's evidence of exposure, says one Yale epidemiologist.

The Yale report comes on the heels of a new federal announcement -- one calling for vaccination of emergency personnel and healthcare workers, some 500,000 people. Each state would designate teams to receive the shots, teams that will consist of doctors, disease trackers, nurses, lab workers, and law enforcement officers -- the first to respond in case of bioterrorism attack, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Volunteers at four sites around the country are already being inoculated with diluted doses of two vaccines to test their effectiveness. A vaccine known as Dryvax was made 20 years ago; 15 million doses of it are available. Another vaccine by Aventis Pasteur, Inc., was donated to the government; the company has stockpiled it for decades.

"I think it makes sense to vaccinate emergency responders pre-attack, precisely so that there will be a pool of persons who can protect the rest of us," says Edward H. Kaplan, PhD, professor of management science and public health at Yale School of Medicine, in an email interview with WebMD.

However, Kaplan takes issue with the CDC's overall plan for handling deadly outbreaks, which is known as "ring vaccination." It means vaccinating those who are exposed and others they have come in contact with -- as well as contacts of those contacts -- all of which constitutes the ring of infection.

Relying on ring vaccination would be "a huge error ... [and] will fail in all but the most meager outbreaks," Kaplan says.

Mass vaccination of the U.S. population -- on the other hand -- would result "in far fewer deaths and much faster epidemic eradication," he writes in his study of the issue, which appears in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

But "ring vaccination and mass vaccination are not mutually exclusive," Jim Hughes, MD, director of the CDC's National Center for Infectious Diseases, tells WebMD.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Test your knowledge.
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
birth control pills
Learn about your options.
Is it menopause or something else?
woman in bathtub
bp app on smartwatch and phone
estrogen gene

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Blood pressure check
hot water bottle on stomach
Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror