Vaccinated for smallpox as a child, any good now?

As the title says, I’m old enough that I was vaccinated for smallpox as a child. Does that do me any good against the resurgence of the disease in recent years? Does smallpox vaccination ever wear off?

:confused: Ya sure you don’t mean Monkeypox?

CMC fnord!

Smallpox is considered to have been eradicated in the wild.
Vaccination against smallpox using vaccinia (a related virus) is pretty good for about 5 years in 90+ % of individuals; after that a booster vaccine might give an even longer duration of protection.

The exact duration, or the extent of amelioration of disease for post-vaccinated exposures varies by individual. In general it’s better to have been vaccinated–even as a child–because the immune response might be faster than in a naive host exposed to the virus.

AllFreedomUnlessDefyingScience–what the Dopers, wiser than me, mean is, Small pox ain’t there not more, or, whachoo talkin’ 'bout, AllFreedomUnlessDefyingScience?

So what is that scar that so many people in their 40s and older have on their upper arms? I always thought that was a smallpox vaccination (I didn’t get one because I was born just after they stopped giving them in my area - my two older sisters both have them).

Yes, that’s a smallpox vaccination scar. Vaccination continued most places into the late 1960’s, and some places into the 1970’s.

The older vac scars are much bigger. My mother’s was pretty ugly, about an inch across; it was pre-1940, probably more like 1915-1920. Vaccinations of my generation, ca. 1950’s, cannot be seen without a magnifying glass.

I was born in '68, and mine’s about half an inch across, even without a magnifying glass. :dubious:

My daughter is from the Philippines, born in 1995, and has a smallpox vaccination scar.

Smallpox vaccination lasts effectively for 3 to 5 years, after that it’s effectiveness dwindles. So your vaccination, from at least 40 years ago, is almost certainly of no use anymore.

But it doesn’t matter, as smallpox has been eradicated from the entire world.
The last case of natural smallpox in the world was in 1977. The next year, there was a case where a journalist was accidentally exposed to smallpox in a laboratory, she died, the scientist in charge of the lab killed himself, and WHO authorities ordered all laboratory samples destroyed (except for 2 world lab sites). Your reference to a “resurgence of the disease” is incorrect information.

Wrong. It still exists at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, and at a Russian lab in Siberia, those are the known storage places, just in case it turns out to be the cure for cancer or something.

The actual reason for maintaining a sample of the virus is for bio weapons defense, because if there are 2 known locations, there is probably at least one other unknown location of the virus. The current population of the world would be almost completely defenseless to smallpox used as a weapon. Smallpox no longer exists in the wild, but it exists still.

I’ve got a scar on my shoulder that looks like I was shot by a 9mm. (born 1956) It was a big, nasty, puss filled scabby thing when I had my shot and we were told in those days that it offered immunity for life. Later years the shot only produced minor irritation and left almost no scar.

Sorry t-bon, I didn’t see that you noted that there were still two storage sites.

This is not correct.
Smallpox vaccination scars do vary in size depending on the amount of original local pock reaction and a given individual’s predisposition to scar.

However, as a practical rule of thumb, the amount of immediate (several days) pock formation correlates with successful vaccinia vaccination. Although there have been various stocks of vaccinia used for vaccination against smallpox, all of them are applied using surface (intradermal) scarification techniques, and development of a robust and crusting pustule is considered an important practical marker that the correct technique was used and that an appropriate immunologic response was obtained. In large populations, skin reaction is the only practical way of looking for proper technique and response, because it’s too expensive to check neutralizing antibody responses on large populations. This technique necessarily leaves scars, even with today’s vaccines, and the extent of the permanent scar is more a reflection of the individual than of the overall approach to smallpox vaccination.

Both Dryvax (one of the commonest older commercial vaccinia preparations) and ACAM2000 (a more recent preparation) will leave scars of various sizes.

My smallpox vaccination scar is 1/2" diameter, received it in 1959. They used the Wyeth Dryvax vaccine. Note to NeedsCoffee - your daughter was most likely given the BCG vaccine for TB, not the smallpox vaccine. The BCG vaccination leaves a scar, sometimes similar to the smallpox vaccination, but smaller.

Mine is about the size of a dime, and sits above my right deltoid muscle. It’s almost gone now—age has withered it, and the years condemned. Is there any way to make it more visible? I’m a pretty chunky monkey now; if I lost enough weight to bring me down to the physique I had in my twenties, would it reappear?

From an article on a then-recent study on

Any thoughts on whether those of us previously vaccinated for Small Pox would have a lower risk of complications from a Small Pox vaccine?

Go to a tattoo parlor and get your faded scar enhanced? :wink:

Question: Why are smallpox vaccinations done differently than other kinds of immunization (commonly also called “vaccinations”)? Why isn’t it done by sticking a needle into you and squirting like other jabs are done?

Would that really work? If so, how would I go about finding a competent artist who won’t fuck it up and make it look like an advertisement for Titleist Golf Balls? I think I’ll try losing some flab first and see what happens…:dubious:

A recent study (2006) concluded that the median duration of protection from primary vaccination ranged from 11.7 to 28.4 years. Vaccinated individuals appeared to be protected from severe disease with more than 50% probability even 50 years after successful primary vaccination. The study suggests that primary vaccination offered full protection for a few decades, with partial protection possibly lasting a lifetime.

A/PubMed Sept 17,2006

I got my first smallpox vaccination in 1945 and a booster in boot camp in 1962. I and no one I knew had any reaction to the booster so it was still effective at that point.

The 2006 study sounds like the right answer.