Smallpox Facts and Myths
At the end of 2002 a study was published in THE NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE that showed that the American public has a number of misconceptions about smallpox and smallpox vaccine. The study found that the majority surveyed had the following false beliefs:
In addition, thirty percent believe that vaccination earlier in their lives would protect them from the disease.
The NEJM study also found that most of those surveyed said they wanted to be vaccinated but only if their own physicians were vaccinated too.
- MYTH: There is an effective treatment for smallpox
- MYTH: There have been cases of smallpox in the past five years
- MYTH: There is not enough smallpox vaccine to vaccinate everyone in the United States
Below are some sites that can help you learn more about smallpox the disease, and the current vaccine program.
Centers for Disease Control Smallpox has an extensive site about the current vaccine program. Important features are:
The World Health Organization also has an extensive smallpox site. Highlights are:
THE NEWSHOUR WITH JIM LEHRER has an online forum where experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention answer selected questions about smallpox. Read the responses or pose your own.
For more in depth information on smallpox in the 21st century:
- Richard Preston, "The Demon in the Freezer," THE NEW YORKER, July 12, 1999
- Shannon Brownlee, "Clear and Present Danger," THE WASHINGTON POST, October 28, 2001
- Dr. Jonathan B. Tucker, SCOURGE: THE ONCE AND FUTURE THREAT OF SMALLPOX
- Ceci Connolly, "Liability Fears Grow on Inoculations," WASHINGTON POST, January 6, 2003
- Ceci Connolly, "U.S. Hopes Incentives Will Push Vaccine Development,"
WASHINGTON POST, January 30, 2003
- "Smallpox as a Biological Weapon, Medical and Public Health Management," JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, June 9, 1999