Side Effects of Smallpox Vaccine
Smallpox is a contagious disease, which can be quite severe and sometimes may even prove fatal. A person suffering from this disease gets small boils or bumps all over the body. There is no specific treatment for this disease. Hence, people go in for vaccination in order to protect themselves from the disease. However, people can suffer from certain vaccine reactions, just like that of any other medication. However, the side effects vary from person to person, depending upon their health condition.
The smallpox vaccine has different levels and categories of side effects that can affect individuals. We shall look into them in the following sections.
Mild or Temperate Reactions
- The arm where the vaccine is injected will appear red and swollen. It might look like a large skin boil with pus formation in it, which will drain in 2 – 3 days, leaving a scar.
- The person might suffer from mild fever.
- Some people do not get sleep after vaccination, which results in tiredness and headache.
- The sweat glands in the armpits become large and swollen (like boils), and might be painful.
Some people might get boils and blisters on other parts of the body.
Intense or Severe Reactions
- The heart can be affected severely due to inflammation. This condition can be mild or serious depending upon the individual.
- Sometimes a person can suffer from rashes on the entire body if the virus spreads through blood. This is also known as generalized vaccinia.
- There can also be a toxic rash or a rash due to allergy forming erythema multiforme (acute allergic reaction due to medication, illness, and infection).
- A person might get sores and boils in a particular area if he touches it after touching the vaccinated area or another person who has been vaccinated. It mostly occurs on the face or the genital area. It can also affect the eyes leading to poor vision, damage to the eyes, or even blindness. Hence, it is advised to keep your hands clean and wash them immediately after vaccination.
You should consult a doctor immediately on the occurrence of these reactions.
Near Fatal Reactions
These reactions are very hazardous and life-threatening.
- There can be skin infection due to tissue damage, which can result in death. It is also known as vaccinia necrosum or progressive vaccinia.
- If an unborn baby is infected with vaccinia virus, it can lead to conditions, like, death of the child after delivery, stillbirth, premature delivery, and skin rash with scarring. However, this happens in extremely rare cases.
- Permanent brain damage (due to inflamed brain), which is also known as Encephalitis.
- People can also suffer from severe rash with eczema, which may result in mild scars or pose a serious risk of death. It is also known as atopic dermatitis.
People suffering from certain skin conditions or a weakened immune system are more likely to suffer from these reactions. Thus, it is advised to consult a doctor before going for such a vaccination.
- A person might suffer from shortness of breath.
- Pale skin, eye infection are also the symptoms of vaccination side effects.
- Another sign of the side effects can be delayed healing of the vaccinated area.
- There can be weakness, dizziness, prolonged headache, and fever.
- A person might also suffer from unusual problems, like, seizures, confusion, etc.
- Chest pain or unusual heartbeats are also among the noted side effects.
Consult a doctor immediately if you are suffering from any of these side effects after receiving the smallpox vaccine.
People who are not vaccinated can also suffer from these side effects, if they happen to make a physical contact with people suffering from the aforementioned symptoms, and touch the vaccinated area or their used towels, clothes, or bandages. Thus, everyone around needs to take precautions to prevent any mild as well as severe side effects of the vaccination.
Precautions to be Taken
- Cover the vaccinated area with a gauze bandage or a semi-permeable bandage, which allows air to pass through, but restricts the flow of fluids outside.
- Do not touch the vaccinated area, as it can spread the infection to other body parts and other people.
- Change the bandage regularly (every 2 – 3 days) and keep the vaccinated area clean.
- Do not share things like towels or clothes with anyone, especially if the items have come in contact with the infected area, as it may spread to other people.
- Keep the infected area dry and avoid scratching it.
- Do not mix your clothes with others’ clothes.
These are some of the precautions you must take to prevent the spread of the side effects of smallpox vaccine. Be healthy and prevent these side effects from affecting your life.