The Department of Defense reported its first case of inflammation in or around the heart (myopericarditis) after smallpox vaccination in early February 2003. As of January 2008, DoD has identified 161 cases of acute myocarditis and/or pericarditis among 1.4M smallpox vaccinees, with symptoms appearing 7 to 19 days after vaccination. These people had clinical conditions that varied from mild to moderate; the condition was severe in two cases.
Most cases occurred among those receiving smallpox vaccinations for the first time. Most cases occurred among men.
The health of our people is foremost in our priorities. These cases were followed carefully to evaluate their recovery, at 27 hospitals in 21 states and several countries overseas. Detailed follow-up cardiac testing is available in 46 cases: all had normal electrocardiograms (EKGs), echocardiograms ("echos") and normal treadmill test results. Based on our data and European experience, we have reason to believe these people should recover and remain well.
Yes. We will defer people with serious heart or blood vessel-related conditions. From the standpoint of military readiness, people with major heart conditions are unlikely to be in military service. Some examples include a history of angina, an earlier heart attack, artery disease, congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy, stroke, "mini stroke", or chest pain or shortness of breath with activity (such as walking up stairs). If you have concerns about your health history, speak with your health care provider before vaccination.
Similar to the CDC, and based on input from the American College of Cardiology, we will also defer people with three or more cardiac risk factors. The risk factors include:
(1) current smoker or tobacco user,
(2) high blood pressure,
(3) high cholesterol or triglycerides,
(4) high blood sugar,
(5) a heart condition before age 50 in a parent, brother, or sister.
Vaccination of other people should continue as planned.
If you smoke, we encourage you to stop.