The Smallpox Debate: Vaccinate, or Wait?

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Smallpox is back, in the headlines anyway. The disease that last surfaced in this country 53 years ago is now the focus of intense debate among health professionals.
New fears of bioterrorism are sparking a debate over the risks and rewards of vaccination. With news of enough smallpox vaccine for every man, woman and child in the United States, many health professionals are advocating an aggressive program of voluntary vaccinations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prefer to wait. They point to unanswered questions about the vaccine’s potential mortality rates and side effects, and the unknown likelihood of a bioterrorist attack.


Dr. Jonathan Tucker, director of the Chemical & Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and author of “Scourge: The One and Future Threat of Smallpox”

Dr. William Bicknell, professor of International Health, Socio-Medical Sciences and Community Medicine in the Department of International Health at the Boston University School of Public Health.