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Smallpox is everywhere. It was declared eradicated in 1980, but it has been making headlines since September 11th, and even more since President Bush announced an unprecidented campaign to start vaccinating military personnel, emergency healthcare workers, and himself, against the disease.

The mass vaccination program is a response to what the President says is “the possibility that terrorists…would use disease as a weapon.” But the administration is discouraging average citizens from being innoculated, pointing to the vaccine’s dangerous side effects.

According to a new study, however, most Americans aren’t aware of either those side effects, or of the threat posed by the disease itself. Life and death decisions, getting to know smallpox again.


Dr. Robert Blendon, Professor of Health Policy and Management at Harvard School of Public Health, and co-author of “The Public and the Smallpox Threat” – which is in the January 2003 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine

Trish Perl, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

Dr. Howard Koh, Commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health