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Clinical guidance for smallpox vaccine use in a postevent vaccination program. MMWR Recomm Rep 2015 Feb 20;64(RR-02):1-26



Pubmed ID


Scopus ID

2-s2.0-84927169940   32 Citations


This report outlines recommendations for the clinical use of the three smallpox vaccines stored in the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile for persons who are exposed to smallpox virus or at high risk for smallpox infection during a postevent vaccination program following an intentional or accidental release of the virus. No absolute contraindications exist for smallpox vaccination in a postevent setting. However, several relative contraindications exist among persons with certain medical conditions. CDC recommendations for smallpox vaccine use were developed in consideration of the risk for smallpox infection, risk for an adverse event following vaccination, and benefit from vaccination. Smallpox vaccines are made from live vaccinia viruses that protect against smallpox disease. They do not contain variola virus, the causative agent of smallpox. The three smallpox vaccines stockpiled are ACAM2000, Aventis Pasteur Smallpox Vaccine (APSV), and Imvamune. Surveillance and containment activities including vaccination with replication-competent smallpox vaccine (i.e., vaccine viruses capable of replicating in mammalian cells such as ACAM2000 and APSV) will be the primary response strategy for achieving epidemic control. Persons exposed to smallpox virus are at high risk for developing and transmitting smallpox and should be vaccinated with a replication-competent smallpox vaccine unless severely immunodeficient. Because of a high likelihood of a poor immune response and an increased risk for adverse events, smallpox vaccination should be avoided in persons with severe immunodeficiency who are not expected to benefit from vaccine, including bone marrow transplant recipients within 4 months of transplantation, persons infected with HIV with CD4 cell counts <50 cells/mm3, and persons with severe combined immunodeficiency, complete DiGeorge syndrome, and other severely immunocompromised states requiring isolation. If antivirals are not immediately available, it is reasonable to consider the use of Imvamune in the setting of a smallpox virus exposure in persons with severe immunodeficiency. Persons without a known smallpox virus exposure might still be at high risk for developing smallpox infection depending on the magnitude of the outbreak and the effectiveness of the public health response. Such persons will be defined by public health authorities and should be screened for relative contraindications to smallpox vaccination. Relative contraindications include atopic dermatitis (eczema), HIV infection (CD4 cell counts of 50-199 cells/mm3), other immunocompromised states, and vaccine or vaccine-component allergies. Persons with relative contraindications should be vaccinated with Imvamune when available and authorized for use by the Food and Drug Administration. These recommendations will be updated as new data on smallpox vaccines become available and further clinical guidance for other medical countermeasures including antivirals is developed.

Author List

Petersen BW, Damon IK, Pertowski CA, Meaney-Delman D, Guarnizo JT, Beigi RH, Edwards KM, Fisher MC, Frey SE, Lynfield R, Willoughby RE


Rodney E. Willoughby MD Professor in the Pediatrics department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Biohazard Release
Disaster Planning
Immunization Programs
Practice Guidelines as Topic
Smallpox Vaccine
United States