Smallpox was officially declared to have been eradicated in December 1979.
Not eliminated. Not eradicated in the United States. It was eradicated.
When was the last case of smallpox?
The last wild case occurred in 1977, in Somalia. Another case occurred in 1978, but that followed a lab accident in Birmingham, England.
We still have stocks of the smallpox virus in at least two secure laboratories and with the risk that smallpox can be used as a biological weapon, we still have a smallpox vaccine.
It isn’t for just anyone though.
The live, attenuated smallpox vaccine made vaccinia virus, ACAM2000, is given as a single dose to those who are at high risk for getting smallpox.
The latest version of the smallpox vaccine was licensed in 2007 and replaced Dryvax, the previous vaccine.
The routine civilian production and distribution of a smallpox vaccine ended in 1983. We had already stopped routinely vaccinating people long before that though. Routine smallpox vaccinated, which was typically given when children were about 12 months old, ended in 1972 in the United States.
For more information:
- About the Smallpox Vaccine
- ACIP Smallpox Vaccine Recommendations
- History of the Smallpox Vaccine
- Safety of smallpox vaccine: questions and answers
- Smallpox Vaccination and Adverse Reactions