Bioterrorism Threat May Prompt More Inoculations

Article excerpt

Insight's recent feature on vaccines ("When Vaccines Do Harm to Kids," Feb. 28) pointed out that, by the age of 5, children already will have received 33 doses of 10 different vaccines. While focusing on severe adverse reactions that may result from immunizations, the article also mentioned that the medicos want to increase the number of vaccines administered to infants as well as to inoculate 12-year-olds against sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, it can be expected that more inoculations will be proposed for children and adults as a result of increasing anxiety regarding bioterrorism.

A case in point regards smallpox. Although smallpox was eradicated worldwide by 1978, both the United States and Russia kept samples of the smallpox virus, "ostensibly for research purposes," according to a report from the Public Health Policy Advisory Board. An expert on the matter notes that these stashes are "the two we know about." Now that people no longer are being vaccinated against the disease, concerns have been expressed that terrorists might unleash the virus to cause panic.

The concerns now being put forward are familiar to J. Donald Millar, author of the report and former director of the Smallpox Eradication Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC. …