In a previous column we answered a high school student’s question about a vaccine scar she has on her arm. We stated the BCG vaccine and the smallpox vaccine were likely the cause a scar on the upper arm. The likely cause in the student’s case is the BCG vaccine because the student was foreign-born and the smallpox vaccine is no longer routinely given in the United States. A reader called to let us know that some members of our military still get the smallpox vaccine.
We want to thank the reader for taking time to contact us. We are aware that the military and researchers working with related poxviruses still receive the smallpox vaccine. We were writing about the general public when we said that the smallpox vaccine is no longer routinely given here. However, the reader’s comment is reason enough to tell you more about smallpox.