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Video Transcript: Smallpox Vaccine Administration

Segment 2 of 8:
Vaccine Overview

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Watch this segment of the video RealOne Player RealOne Player format (2 min 59 sec)

In this segment of the program, we will discuss the characteristics of smallpox vaccine and adverse reactions that may occur following vaccination.

As many as three different smallpox vaccines are available, or will soon be available, in the United States. All three vaccines contain the New York City Board of Health strain of live vaccinia virus.

Smallpox vaccine does NOT contain smallpox, or variola virus. So when we refer to smallpox vaccine in this video, we are actually talking about vaccinia vaccine.

Dryvax was produced by Wyeth Lederle in the early 1980s from calf lymph containing live vaccinia virus. This vaccine is provided as a freeze-dried powder and contains the antibiotics polymyxin B, streptomycin, tetracycline, and neomycin. The diluent used to reconstitute the vaccine is 50 percent glycerin with a small amount of phenol as a preservative.

The newest vaccines also contain live New York City Board of Health vaccinia virus, but are produced using cell culture technology rather than live animals. These vaccines will be distributed as a freeze-dried powder but do not contain antibiotics. The diluent contains glycerin and phenol, like the Dryvax diluent.

Proper reconstitution of smallpox vaccine is critical to successful vaccination. Instructions for reconstitution are vaccine-specific, and will be provided with your vaccine shipment. It's important that you follow these instructions very carefully.

Smallpox vaccine is unique in that it is not administered by injection. It's administered into the superficial layer of the skin with a two-pronged, or bifurcated, needle like this one. Bifurcated needles will be supplied to you in individual sterile packages.

Live vaccinia virus is present at the vaccination site beginning 3 to 4 days after vaccination, and until the scab separates. This occurs about 2 to 3 weeks after vaccination. Since the developing vaccinia lesion usually itches, care must be taken to avoid scratching, then touching other parts of the body, such as the eye, or other people. This could transfer the vaccine virus to these sites or individuals. Washing hands immediately after touching the vaccination site or dressing is very important in preventing this. We will discuss care of the vaccination site in more detail later in the program.

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  • Page last updated December 13, 2002
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