Skip navigation
D. The Risks Involved with Smallpox Vaccination

Narrator: This is Science Today. With global concerns about a smallpox pandemic on the rise, experts researching smallpox prevention are looking to the past to improve options for the future. Epidemiologist Arthur Reingold of the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley describes the risks involved with smallpox vaccination.

Reingold: The real complexity about vaccinating large numbers of people against smallpox is that at least the old vaccine we know caused substantial side effects in people and not only at a predictable rate of mortality, but substantial morbidity, that is to say illness, some of which is quite serious.

Narrator: Reingold says that people can recover from many of the side effects but the need for better vaccines and viral treatments associated with smallpox is crucial.

Reingold: The old vaccine was made under conditions that today would be considered extremely primitive. There already is work underway to produce a much more modern smallpox vaccine, and ultimately to produce enough doses for the whole country.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.