Background: Routine vaccination against smallpox (variola) ceased in the US in 1976. However, in 2002 limited coverage for military personnel and some healthcare workers was reinstituted. In March 2008, ACAM2000® replaced Dryvax® as the vaccine used in the United States against smallpox. Unintentional transfer of vaccinia virus from a vaccination site by autoinoculation or contact transmission, can have significant public health implications. We summarize unintentional virus transfer AEs associated with ACAM2000® since March 2008 and compare with Dryvax®.
Results: We identified 309 reports for ACAM2000® with skin or ocular involvement, of which 93 were autoinoculation cases and 20 were contact transmission cases. The rate for reported cases of autoinoculation was 20.6 per 100,000 vaccinations and for contact transmission was 4.4 per 100,000 vaccinations. Eighteen contact transmission cases could be attributed to contact during a sporting activity (45%) or intimate contact (45%). Of the 113 unintentional transfer cases, 6 met the case definition for ocular vaccinia. The most common locations for all autoinoculation and contact cases were arm/elbow/shoulder (35/113; 31%) and face (24/113; 21%).
Methods: We reviewed 753 reports associated with smallpox in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System and CDC Poxvirus consultation log, reported from March 2008 to August 2010. Reports were classified into categories based upon standard case definitions.
Conclusion: Overall, unintentional transfer events for ACAM2000® and Dryvax® are similar. We recommend continued efforts to prevent transfer events and continuing education for healthcare providers focused on recognition of vaccinia lesions, proper sample collection, and laboratory testing to confirm diagnosis.