Smallpox Vaccine Needed for Risk of Bioterrorism

Rochester is at the forefront of developing new vaccine.

Rochester, N.Y. – Routine vaccinations for smallpox ended forty years ago after the World Health Organization officially declared global eradication of smallpox. This means the majority of the population is not protected. The threat of bioterrorism and natural re-emergence has prompted the United States and countries around the world to prepare an updated vaccine which is more effective and easier to store. Rochester Clinical Research (RCR) is currently on the forefront of developing this vaccine.

Matthew Davis, MD, Principal Investigator for the smallpox vaccine research study is enthusiastic to be a part of this research. “The current vaccine stocked by the United States government is not stable for long-term storage. The study vaccine is a freeze-dried version that will be as safe, effective and more stable in storage. It has rarely had side effects in the past 22 studies. You cannot get smallpox from the vaccine. Reactions are similar to a flu vaccine and no scarring occurs like the previous smallpox vaccine.”

There are only two countries in the world that are approved to have smallpox in a lab facility for research, the United States and Russia. Despite extreme security measures in place at both facilities, the possibility of accidental discharge or theft of the material cannot be totally ignored. In the past, the virus was turned into a bioweapon when it fell into the hands of terrorists or people with criminal intentions. It is unknown if other countries or labs have smallpox virus samples, as the WHO only asked countries to voluntarily destroy the smallpox virus in 1980. Looming threats of scientists recreating a synthetic smallpox virus using advanced DNA technology also exists. Currently, the only people vaccinated against smallpox are military members, due to the threat of smallpox used in warfare, and the Smallpox Response Teams that were formed after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Smallpox is an ancient disease caused by the variola virus. Historically it has killed millions of people around the world. The disease causes fever, fatigue and a rash on the face, arms, and legs of a victim. The virus would cripple the immune system and 30% of those infected would die, as there is no specific treatment or cure available. Those who survive usually have severe scars or permanent blindness.

RCR is currently enrolling individuals between the ages of 18-45 year olds to participate in a smallpox vaccine research study. Compensation is available up to $475 for those who qualify. The study will hopefully give approval to a safer, more stable smallpox vaccine in case of a bioterrorist attack.

For more information about this research study opportunity, visit the RCR website at or call 585-288-0890.

About Rochester Clinical Research:

Rochester Clinical Research was founded in 1994 with the objective of providing the Greater Rochester area with access to a premier clinical research facility. The goal of the organization is to advance new medical treatments and improve the quality of life for individuals everywhere. Rochester Clinical Research puts great pride in the relationships it has with its sponsors, volunteers, and staff. The organization strives toward advancing new medicines and catching up with diseases before they become a problem.


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