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Warning on routine smallpox vaccination



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news release φ· NATIONAL H EA LTH A ND MEDICAL R ESI EARCH COUNCIL

WARNING. ON ROUTINE SMALLPOX VACCINATION 88/80

. The National Health and Medical Research Council

has warned medical practitioners against performing

vaccination against smallpox as a routine or therapeutic

procedure. '

At the Ninetieth Session of the N Η ξ M R C in

Canberra today, Council stated that vaccination against

smallpox was not justified except for personnel likely to

be exposed to the virus.

Council had noted that despite a World Health Organ­

ization announcement that smallpox had been eradicated

and that only a small number of countries required smallpox

immunisation as a quarantine measure, vaccination against

the disease was still being performed extensively.

Smallpox vaccination carried a small but measureable

risk of serious complications to both those being vaccinated

and their contacts, and Council considered that there was -

consequently a greater risk associated with the administration

of smallpox vaccine than of contracting a non-existent disease.

Council drew the attention of medical practitioners

to the fact that there was no evidence that smallpox

vaccination had therapeutic value in the treatment of

recurrent herpes simplex infection, warts or any other

disease.

Only four countries, Democratic Kampuchea,

Madagascar, Djibouti and Chad, now required smallpox

vaccination as a quarantine measure.

CANBERRA, 31 October 1980