From the editor: Smallpox vaccination safe

Published 6:20 am Wednesday, August 25, 2021

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Dawn Burleigh,
General Manager/Editor

Got your attention now? Good.

There is much debate on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccinations and much more misinformation circulating concerning the vaccines. As the Delta variant is on the rise, people are questioning themselves on their decisions concerning getting ‘the jab’ or not.

I am not a medical expert, nor will I claim to have all the answers. I too am sifting through the data to help make an informed decision.

Last week I was part of a conversation concerning the point of view people took during the polio vaccinations. I asked, or rather suggested, that it was possible that there were the same concerns then for the polio vaccination as there are today for the COVID vaccination but we are not hearing about it because social media did not exist then.

This week, I stumbled across a story on the front page of the Thursday, August 25, 1938 edition of The Orange Leader titled ‘Smallpox Vaccination Safety Is Emphasized In Common Sense Article.’

The safety of Smallpox vaccination is emphasized in the following article taken from the booklet “Common Sense Versus Small Pox,” which is issued by the State Board of Health:

“There is no operation more safe than vaccination. If done by a competent physician no possible harm can result provided the site of inoculation is given ordinary protection against anything that might cause infection.”

“In Detroit during six months of 1924 there were 817,000 vaccinations, without a single serious consequence. In June and July 1925, 7500 employees in the home office of the Metropolitan Life Insurance company voluntarily submitted to vaccination; there was not a case of serious illness.”

“Vaccine is prepared in a scientific manner to conform with rigid standards set by the U. S. government, and every precaution us taken to preserve its potency.”

“When there is a safe, sure preventive, why take the risk of contracting smallpox which, even if the patient should escape death, may result in Conjunctivitis; ulceration of the cornea of the eye, causing blindness; middle ear disease; gangrene; arthritis, bronchitis; heart complications; kidney complications; and glandular involvement, not to mention the disfigurement which follows a case of smallpox.”

“The responsibility lies upon the parents of every unvaccinated child whether or not smallpox will continue to take its toll in loves in the future. It is their privilege to make the decision.”

It sounds as if the same arguments are being repeated today with COVID as were debated for smallpox. History repeating itself, again.

On August 12, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for both the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for the use of an additional dose in certain immunocompromised individuals, specifically, solid organ transplant recipients or those who are diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is currently authorized for emergency use in individuals ages 12 and older, and the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine is authorized for emergency use in individuals ages 18 and older. Both vaccines are administered as a series of two shots: the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is administered three weeks apart, and the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine is administered one month apart. The authorizations for these vaccines have been amended to allow for an additional, or third, dose to be administered at least 28 days following the two-dose regimen of the same vaccine to individuals 18 years of age or older (ages 12 or older for Pfizer-BioNTech) who have undergone solid organ transplantation, or who are diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website.

Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends use of COVID-19 vaccines for everyone ages 12 and older within the scope of the Emergency Use Authorization for the particular vaccine. COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines may be administered on the same day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

If you are exposed or test positive for the coronavirus, do quarantine to prevent the spread of the disease. I would ask this of you if you had the flu or chickenpox. Just like you, I prefer not to get sick and I do not want to share with I am sick.

But if you are running errands and in and out of stores while you are positive for the flu, you are spreading it to others who may have a compromised immune system. It is why you willingly stay home when you are sick, so that you do not spread it to others. If you take precautions when you have the flu, why are you mot taking precautions when you have COVID?

Dawn Burleigh is general manager and editor of The Orange Leader. She can be reached at