The Smallpox Vaccination Program: Public Health in an Age of Terrorism (2005)
In December of 2002, it was announced that a smallpox vaccine would be available to those working in high-risk areas as well as to other civilians. This decision emerged from growing concern over bioterrorism and followed events such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the anthrax attacks in October of 2001. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was charged with implementing the government's smallpox vaccine policy, and thus was faced with gaining the trust necessary for promoting a vaccine for a disease that is not currently a threat. At the CDC's request, the Institute of Medicine convened the Committee on Smallpox Vaccination Implementation in October of 2002 to review and make recommendations for the smallpox program. The committee met six times over 19 months and wrote a series of letter reports discussing and advising on issues such as the informed consent process for vaccine recipients; communication between the CDC, medical professionals, and the public; education and training materials; guidelines for identifying vaccine recipients; and recognizing, evaluating, and treating adverse effects of the vaccine. The Smallpox Vaccination Program is the final report, which brings together the previous reports, summarizes the history of the smallpox vaccine program, and reviews the goals of and lessons learned from the program.