The only way to prevent smallpox is by receiving the smallpox vaccine, which was developed from the vaccinia virus, which is related to the smallpox virus, but causes a far milder form of disease. In 1972, routine smallpox vaccination was stopped in the United States because the risks of the vaccine itself were felt to be higher than the risk of getting smallpox. The smallpox vaccine caused one to two deaths for every million people vaccinated. Today, because of the possible threat of bioterrorism, the vaccine is being considered for members of the armed services, public health workers, first responders and health care professionals. In addition, the United States government has enough vaccine to respond to a smallpox outbreak in the country. Vaccination within three to seven days after exposure to smallpox may prevent the disease in rare cases, but usually limits its symptoms, and is thought to reduce mortality.
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