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What are some potential risks of the smallpox vaccine>

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Some of its side effects can be dangerous, especially for people with weak immune systems. They can range from skin reactions to a serious nervous system condition called encephalitis, which can lead to convulsions, coma, and death. But these side effects are very rare.

Some people have a higher chance of a reaction, like:

  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • People with skin disorders such as eczema
  • People with a weak immune system
  • People on medical treatments, such as for cancer, that make the immune system weak

From: Smallpox WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES: World Health Organization: "Smallpox," "Global Alert and Response: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on Smallpox," "Advisory Committee on Variola Virus Research, Report of the Eleventh Meeting; November 2009." CDC: "Smallpox Factsheet," "Questions and Answers about Smallpox Disease," and "What You Should Know About a Smallpox Outbreak" 2009. , Aug. 1, 2003. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: "Smallpox."




The Journal of the American Medical Association,
American Family Physician

Reviewed by Dan Brennan on October 26, 2018

SOURCES: World Health Organization: "Smallpox," "Global Alert and Response: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on Smallpox," "Advisory Committee on Variola Virus Research, Report of the Eleventh Meeting; November 2009." CDC: "Smallpox Factsheet," "Questions and Answers about Smallpox Disease," and "What You Should Know About a Smallpox Outbreak" 2009. , Aug. 1, 2003. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: "Smallpox."




The Journal of the American Medical Association,
American Family Physician

Reviewed by Dan Brennan on October 26, 2018

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What would happen if there were an outbreak of smallpox?

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