Smallpox Vaccination

Vaccines Recommended for Travel and Some Specific Groups

After smallpox was eliminated from the world, routine vaccination against smallpox among the general public was stopped because it was no longer needed. However, because of concern that variola virus might be used as an agent of bioterrorism, the U.S. government has stockpiled enough smallpox vaccine to vaccinate everyone who would need it if a smallpox outbreak were to occur.

When there is NO smallpox outbreak, you should get the smallpox vaccine if you are a lab worker who works with virus that causes smallpox or other viruses that are similar to it.

If you need long-term protection, you may need to get booster vaccinations regularly. To stay protected from smallpox, you should get booster vaccinations every 3 years.

When there IS a smallpox outbreak, you should get the smallpox vaccine if you are directly exposed to smallpox virus. For example, if you had a prolonged face-to-face contact with someone who has smallpox.

If there is a smallpox outbreak, public health officials will say who else should get the vaccine. CDC works with federal, state, and local officials to prepare for a smallpox outbreak.

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What Everyone Should Know

Basic information for people interested in the vaccine...

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Information for Healthcare Professionals

Vaccine recommendations and contraindications; composition, dosage, and administration; handling and storage...

Page last reviewed: October 25, 2012