Cardiac complications from smallpox vaccination higher than expected among military personnel

European literature of the 1960s and 1970s," said Dr. Cassimatis. "This cardiac side effect was virtually unreported in the U.S. experience with vaccination. Fortunately, Dr. Renata Engler, who spearheaded the creation of the Vaccine Health Care Center and is the chief of allergy and immunology here at Walter Reed, was familiar with the European literature and alerted us to the possibility of myopericarditis. As a result we were ready to monitor and treat anyone who developed this problem."

Dr. Cassimitis said future research is needed to better quantify the risk of myopericarditis after smallpox vaccination.

"While the total number affected remains relatively small, we must recognize that the administration of smallpox vaccinations has been limited. The numbers could rise significantly if a more widespread civilian vaccination program was implemented. We need to better understand the potential complications with this small group so we are adequately prepared to address complications on a larger scale if that ever becomes necessary."


Contact: Walter Reed Public Affairs Office
American Medical Association

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