Vaccine didn’t cause heart deaths

From Atlanta, at a meeting of the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service

Fatal heart attacks that recently struck two people after they were vaccinated against smallpox were probably unfortunate coincidences, not adverse consequences of vaccination, say epidemiologists who base their conclusion on death records from the 1940s.

More than 6 million New York City residents were vaccinated against smallpox in April 1947 after a man who’d returned from Mexico died from the infection, Lorna Thorpe of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and her colleagues at the New York City health department combed through more than 80,000 death certificates from the period shortly after the city’s vaccination drive. The researchers found no spike in mortality from heart attacks.

“We feel reassured by the data that in 1947 there was not a significant increase in cardiovascular risk” associated with the vaccine, says Thorpe.

The two recent deaths raised concerns that the vaccine, already known to have significant risks (SN: 4/5/03, p. 218: Available to subscribers at The Vaccinia Dilemma), might have previously unidentified cardiac side effects. As a precaution, the government has warned people with certain heart conditions not to get the shot. For the moment, the precaution remains in place.


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