Most people have never even thought about smallpox as a disease. Nowadays it is basically a non-issue and a childsplay mostly. From a Worldwide perspective the last occurring case in a natural manner of chickenpox was in 1977 in Somalia. Nowadays most of the population of the globe is immunized one way or another.
Smallpox may not be considered much nowadays because very few case if any have been reported in the last 10 years with dire consequences. Most people today get the smallpox, however that is because of intended exposure to the virus as a child. These type of exposure is called a smallpox party and is frowned upon by many. However if smallpox happen to an adult it can have dire consequences like permanent scarring or even death.
The scarring occurs as the rash which is a natural manifestation of smallpox slowly transforms into eczema. If scratched this eczema can leave definitive markings on the skin. Also the same virus is responsible for shingles.
In the United States the last natural case of chickenpox was in 1949 and the virus is nowadays considered eradicated. However there are still to stockpiles being held in the world, one in the United States and one in Russia. This and the potential violence of a reaction in adult population has led the United States Government and CDC to deem the virus a Grade A agent. This means it is one the most dangerous agents list when it comes to public health.
Starting With 1999 the U.S. has begun vaccinating once again, especially for military personnel in order to remove the threat of bioweapons based on this virus. This was happening almost 30 years after the U.S. vaccination program ended (1972). Al those inoculations are done with the same vaccine that was first approved by the FDA in 1931: Dyvax. This vaccine, besides being almost 70 years old as a formula, was available in very limited amounts since it isn’t produced anymore.
This has led to the need for a new and improved vaccine. In 2007 FDA licensed a new vaccine called ACAM2000.
What is the ACAM2000
ACAM2000 is the new chickenpox vaccine and is called a second generation vaccine. It is derived from the same virus as Dryvax. The virus is called vaccinia and although it is very similar to the pox virus it is used because it causes milder outbreaks and symptoms. However the Dryvax vaccine is basically an ancestor of ACAM2000, but the latter is obtained through modern technologies.
Administration and operating mode
The inoculation process is rather different from the traditional shot technique. For the ACAM2000 a two headed needle is used and instead of injecting the vaccine the skin is just perforated after the needle is dipped in the solution. This is done multiple times, usually in the upper arm region. This method is known as localized infection and the virus only works in the perforated region. If the vaccine is efficient the usual pock signs will appear within 3 or 4 days. From there one the process will move on naturally as it would with a normal chickenpox infection. The entire process with the eczema type reaction and clearing should be over in about 3 to 4 weeks.
Availability of ACAM2000
Currently the ACAM2000 is not available as an over the counter drug and the person soliciting the inoculation has to do so to a medic. Medics can refuse people, usually ones with low immunity. Also the ACAM2000 vaccine is the only vaccine yet to be provided with a Medication Guide. The reason behind this is that safe inoculation is require and therefore should be performed only in protected environments by specialized people.