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Cutis. 2018 Feb;101(2):87-90.

Smallpox vaccine complications: the dermatologist's role in diagnosis and management.

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Eglin Air Force Base Hospital, Florida, USA.
University of Colorado Hospital, Aurora, USA.


In 2002, the United States implemented a new program for smallpox vaccinations among military personnel using a live vaccinia virus product. Approximately 2.4 million US military service members and health care workers have since been inoculated, with considerable numbers experiencing adverse reactions. Military dermatologists are at the forefront of describing and treating these reactions, from relatively benign generalized vaccinia (GV) and erythema multiforme (EM) to more severe progressive vaccinia (PV) and eczema vaccinatum (EV). A wide range of providers, including civilian dermatologists and primary care providers, also may see such reactions and must be aware of the spectrum of vaccine reactions. Given current world instability (eg, threats of nuclear war, rise of authoritarian regimes) and concerns for bioterrorism attacks, the smallpox vaccine program likely will continue indefinitely. As the brisk military deployment tempo continues, a larger population of new vaccinees will yield more cutaneous reactions and diagnostic challenges.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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