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Preparing for the Next Smallpox Epidemic

The next smallpox epidemic may never come, but federal officials are preparing for it and at great (excessive?) cost. Pox Americana shows a worst-case scenario. We now have better tools to combat the virus. On the other hand, we travel more frequently than we did in the eighteenth century, and since there are few living survivors of the last outbreak, nearly every one will be susceptible. Individuals born in the United States before 1972 were vaccinated, but the effectiveness of the vaccine is unlikely to persist forty years later.

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