Smallpox Shots Made Students Sick
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SMALLPOX SHOTS MADE STUDENTS SICK
By Derek Rose
New York Daily News
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
NEW YORK - Healthy college students injected with the smallpox vaccine in
clinical trials have developed aches, pains and fevers that laid them up for
The symptoms have been temporary, but they underscore the dangers of the
vaccination strategy under consideration by the Bush administration, experts
Unlike other vaccinations, smallpox immunizations involve injections of a
live virus called vaccina that can cause flu-like symptoms, rashes, sores
and more serious ailments. In extremely rare cases, the vaccine can kill.
"You get swelling, you get tenderness, you can get pain, you may get
chills," said Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
"Getting a smallpox vaccine is not like getting a tetanus shot."
As the White House considers reintroducing the inoculations 30 years after
they were stopped, the National Institutes of Health is sponsoring a study
of the smallpox vaccine at Vanderbilt and three other research centers.
Because vaccina supplies are limited, the study is aimed at determining
whether a diluted version is still effective. The vaccination involves 15
pricks in the upper arm with a needle injecting the vaccina virus.
A pus-filled scab develops within a week that must must be kept covered to
avoid spreading the virus to other body parts -- or other people. The
dressings also must be changed daily and the scab monitored carefully.
Study participants said they developed symptoms in about a week, ranging
from nausea, fatigue, itchiness and pain where they got the shot.
"At one point I was like, 'Just cut it off, just cut my arm off! Be done
with it!'" said Elizabeth Forrester, 26, a Vanderbilt doctoral student
vaccinated Oct. 14. "It just hurts, it aches and it's not fun."
Forrester missed a day and a half of work a week after being immunized, but
others' symptoms were less severe.
"It was basically like having a really, really mild case of the flu," said
Vanderbilt biochemistry student Matthew Westfall, 31, who ran a low-grade
fever for a day.
Karen Cowdery, 24, a University of Iowa cardiology administrator, missed a
day of work but said she'd go through it again. "I was nauseous, sick to my
stomach, achy," she said.
Dr. Patricia Winokur of the University of Iowa estimated that about a
quarter of the 218 people vaccinated there missed a day of work or school. A
few missed two or three days.
"They mostly feel fatigued," she said. "It's what we expected. We were
Vaccinations are not recommended -- and could be dangerous -- for pregnant
women or people with weakened immune systems and skin disorders.
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BUSH TO ANNOUNCE PLAN FOR SMALLPOX VACCINATIONS (11/26/2002):
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ANCIENT & ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES FOR BIOTERRORISM (10/12/2002):
PENTAGON PLANS SMALLPOX SHOTS FOR UP TO 500,000 (10/12/2002):
SMALLPOX VACCINE GUIDELINES READIED (9/23/2002):
SMALLPOX OUTBREAK: WHAT TO DO (8/20/2002):
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U.S. TO VACCINATE 500,000 WORKERS AGAINST SMALLPOX (7/7/2002):
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LEADING DOCTORS' GROUP OPPOSE MANDATORY VACCINATIONS (11/4/2001):
SMALLPOX VACCINATION 101:
NATIONAL VACCINE INFORMATION CENTER (NVIC):
DR. CLASSEN'S VACCINE SITE:
VACCINE INFORMATION AND AWARENESS (VIA) WEB SITE:
CONCERNED PARENTS FOR VACCINE SAFETY:
ANTHRAX VACCINE INFORMATION:
DR. TIM O'SHEA'S THEDOCTORWITHIN.COM:
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