Scientists study those vaccinated more than 60 years ago versus one year ago
Oregon Health & Science University researchers are studying the effectiveness of the smallpox vaccine in patients who received inoculations decades ago compared with those vaccinated more recently. The universal belief has been that smallpox vaccinations provide protection for only three to five years. Until now scientists and physicians assumed that anyone vaccinated more than five years ago had little to no protection left. However, researchers at the OHSU Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute believe that conventional thinking may not be true. To test their theories, scientists are studying how much protection the smallpox vaccination provides 67 years later versus just a year ago. This information may provide a more accurate way of estimating the spread of a potential smallpox outbreak, because nearly 95 percent of Americans older than 35 were vaccinated, and many may still have strong immunity against smallpox.
"I’ve been intrigued about immunological memory for more than a decade. It’s exciting to be able to apply this interest to something that’s relevant to our community right now," said Mark Slifka, Ph.D., assistant professor of molecular microbiology and immunology in the OHSU School of Medicine "We know that people who contract yellow fever, polio, measles or mumps gain a lifelong immunity to those diseases. Now we want to see if this is universally true for other viruses, such as vaccinia, the virus used for immunizing against smallpox."
Christine Pashley | EurekAlert!
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