Questions & Answers
Smallpox - Treating Complications of the Smallpox Vaccination
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Treatment for Patients Who Develop a Reaction to the Smallpox Vaccine

  1. What treatment can be given to patients who had a reaction to smallpox vaccine?
    Recognition and prompt treatment of a serious adverse event after smallpox vaccination is essential. Consult as appropriate with allergy-immunology, infectious-disease, dermatology, neurology, or other appropriate specialist(s) to assist with diagnosis and treatment methods when necessary.

    Some conditions respond to intravenous vaccinia immunoglobulin (IV-VIG), including eczema vaccinatum, progressive vaccinia, severe ocular vaccinia, severe generalized vaccinia. IV-VIG is not effective in treating post-vaccinial encephalitis.

    IV-VIG consists of human IgG antibody from people vaccinated with smallpox vaccine. Current supplies of IV-VIG are limited.

    Once a definite or probable diagnosis of a medication-indicating adverse event has been made by a qualified provider (e.g., infectious-disease, dermatology, allergy-immunology physician), that military provider may request use of IV-VIG for a named patient by telephoning the Immunization Healthcare Branch at 877-GET-VACC, DSN 761-4245, email Procedures for ordering IV-VIG appear at Healthcare providers from civilian institutions should contact the CDC directly by calling the CDC Director's Emergency Operation Center (DEOC) at (770) 488-7100 and request to speak with the Division of Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response (DBPR) on-call person. The CDC is the release authority for IV-VIG.

  2. I got a smallpox vaccination and now I have a rash. What do I do?
    Rashes can sometimes occur after smallpox vaccination. They can range from mild to severe. We recommend that you have your symptoms evaluated by a healthcare provider. You may contact a IHB healthcare provider or send us a photo of the rash via our Ask VHC secure messaging.