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Hey, I have to say that I think you are getting confused between smallpox and the BCG vaccination, which is for tuberculosis.

When you were at shool, you would have had what is called a heaf test, which is a skin prick test and leaves a circular mark on your arm. You would be told to go away and come back in a week to have it read. If you had not been in contact with TB, then your skin prick test would not be raised, as you would have no antibodies in your system that would recognise it. In that case you would then be given the BCG vaccination, which is a live vaccine against TB. The round indentation/mark at the top of your arm is a BCG scar and it is what will be looked for if there is any doubt that you had the vaccination as a child.

What you had was not for smallpox, but for TB and there is no reason why you would have had a smallpox vaccination, as it was erradicated years ago, however, TB is on the increase again unfortunately.

That is why I was asking particularly why the original poster was asking about smallpox vaccination when it is not necessary, unless going to a remote part of the world, where it could possibly be endemic or prevention from terrorist attack.
To murph550: The smallpox vaccination consist of about 15 pricks in the upper arm.

To SciTeach: If you were born and raised in the U.S. then I would say that your childhood memories are correct. My childhood memories of receiving the smallpox vaccination are similar to yours. I remember the scar being quite visible when I was a child and it is still there but I really have to look for it now because it is very faded now. Care of the vaccination site is the same now as it was back then and it is a live virus - the cowpox virus. The inoculation site may shed the virus for 3 weeks which is part of the reason why many health care workers are rethinking their decision to volunteer to receive the vaccination. Healthcare workers who receive the vaccine may be putting many of their patients at risk, particularly the immunocompromised. Many issues need to be addressed such as liability issues and compensation for healthcare workers who perhaps should not provide direct patient care (perhaps be off work)for 3 weeks after vaccination in order to protect patients from exposure to the live virus.

To Sarah68: After reading your reponses, I became curious and did a little research since much of what you said did not agree with my childhood memories nor those of SciTeach. What you said seems consistent with how things are in the UK. I never heard of the heaf test but I did a google search and apparently that is still done in the UK and BCG vaccinations are still given. I knew BCG vaccines were given in some countries but I didn't know the UK was one of them and didn't have much reason to think about it until now. The heaf test sounds similar to the Tuberculin tine test (which uses a multi-pronged instrument) except the latter is read after 48-72 hours and is not considered as accurate as the Mantoux test (another TB skin test that is also read after 48-72 hours).

In 1972 the U.S. discontinued routine smallpox vaccinations when it was decided that the risk posed by the vaccine far outweighed the risk of contracting smallpox. 1977 was the last year that smallpox was considered endemic anywhere in the world. The U.S. never adopted the policy of routine BCG vaccination as some countries have.

I knew I got a smallpox vaccination as a child in my left upper arm and all TB skin tests I have ever had were in my right forearm.





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