Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 281-289

First online:

Countermeasures and vaccination against terrorism using smallpox: pre-event and post-event smallpox vaccination and its contraindications

  • Hajime SatoAffiliated withDepartment of Public Health, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo Email author 


Smallpox, when used as a biological weapon, presents a serious threat to civilian populations. Core components of the public health management of a terrorism attack using smallpox are: vaccination (ring vaccination and mass vaccination), adverse event monitoring, confirmed and suspected smallpox case management, contact management, identifying, tracing, monitoring contacts, and quarantine. Above all, pre-event and post-event vaccination is an indispensable part of the strategies. Since smallpox patients are most infectious from onset of the rash through the first 7–10 days of the rash, vaccination should be administered promptly within a limited time frame. However, vaccination can accompany complications, such as postvaccinial encephalitis, progressive vaccinia, eczema vaccinatum, and generalized vaccinia. Therefore, vaccination is not recommended for certain groups. Public health professionals, as well as physicians and government officials, should also be well equipped with all information necessary for appropriate and effective smallpox management in the face of such a bioterrorism attack.


Bioterrorism Smallpox Vaccination Countermeasures Public acceptance