Protect Yourself Against Smallpox: Discover the Power of ACAM2000!


What is ACAM2000?

ACAM2000 is a vaccine that requires a prescription. It is mainly used to protect against smallpox disease. This vaccine is designed for individuals who are at high risk of contracting the disease.

The live vaccinia virus, which belongs to the 'pox'-type viruses, is the essential component of ACAM2000. It works by preventing smallpox disease.

Apart from its primary use, ACAM2000 may be utilized under FDA's Expanded Access Investigational New Drug (IND) guidance to prevent monkeypox.


If you are at high risk of being exposed to smallpox, it is highly advisable that you take the ACAM2000 vaccine even if you have health challenges. However, caution should be taken if you have certain problems with your immune system.

People who have health issues stand a greater chance of getting severe side effects from vaccination but they may also have an increased probability of dying from smallpox disease.

ACAM2000 has the potential to cause serious heart problems known as myocarditis and pericarditis, which leads to swelling of the heart tissues. According to studies conducted on individuals vaccinated for the first time, about one out of every 175 persons may experience myocarditis and/or pericarditis.

In rare cases, these conditions can lead to an irregular heartbeat and even death. But if you've had this vaccine before, your chances of getting heart problems resulting from it are slim.

Myocarditis and pericarditis may proceed without any physical symptoms on your part. To avoid unwanted circumstances, call your healthcare provider or seek emergency medical help immediately if you experience chest pain or pressure fast or irregular heartbeat breathing difficulties.

The ACAM2000 vaccine contains live virus which means that it can spread over other parts of your body or other people's bodies when touched after vaccination. The infectiousness continues until after 2 weeks - 4 weeks post-vaccination scab falls off completely. If this virus comes in contact with someone who should not be vaccinated against smallpox disease, its side effects could be fatal and serious.

It is essential to learn how best possible ways through which we can care for our smallpox vaccination site post-immunization.

Prior to Medication Use

Before taking ACAM2000, there are certain precautions that you should take into account.

In an emergency situation where you are at high risk of contracting smallpox disease, it is recommended for you to receive a vaccination.

However, if you have certain problems with your immune system, your healthcare provider may not administer ACAM2000.

Problems with your immune system can include having leukemia or lymphoma, having undergone a bone marrow or organ transplant, having cancer that has spread or having HIV/AIDS.

In addition to the aforementioned issues, cellular or humoral immune deficiency and ongoing treatment through radiation or steroids/prednisone/cancer drugs may also interfere with the usage of ACAM2000.

Possible Reactions

ACAM2000 is a vaccine that may cause serious heart problems like myocarditis and pericarditis. These health conditions may develop within 3 to 4 weeks of getting vaccinated. If you have chest pain or pressure, fast or irregular heartbeat, or breathing problems, seek emergency help immediately.

Although most people who develop myocarditis and/or pericarditis tend to recover after a few weeks, some people might experience long-lasting heart problems. In rare cases, this could lead to death. Other severe side effects of ACAM2000 include swelling of the brain or spinal cord, blister-related issues at the vaccination site (such as infection), spread of vaccine virus in other body parts or another person's body after vaccination and an allergic reaction.

Common side effects experienced by many people who get vaccinated against ACAM2000 are itching, swollen lymph nodes, sore arm, fever headache,body ache,mild rash,and fatigue

People with certain medical conditions are at greater risk for severe side effects while taking this drug

- Eczema patients - People with skin problems such as burns, impetigo Contact dermatitis Chickenpox, Shingles, Psoriasis Uncontrolled acne. - People with history of any heart issue including serious heart/blood vessel issues - stroke/previous attack/artery disease/congestive heart failure/angina/cardiac problem etc. - People who smoke/have high cholesterol,blood sugar,blood pressure/family history with similar problem. - Pregnant/Breastfeeding women less than a year old/taking steroid eye drops.

It is important to notify your healthcare provider if you have any of the above mentioned conditions before taking this vaccine.The virus from your vaccination can spread causing serious side-effects if not monitored properly.Therefore, inform your healthcare provider if you live with people with certain health conditions and contact them immediately for serious cardiac emergency.

To report any side-effect that bothers or concerns you,tell your healthcare provider who will further contact Acambis Inc. or VAERS at 800-822-7967

Precautions and Avoidances: Navigating ACAM2000

For 4 weeks after receiving the ACAM2000 vaccine and until the vaccination site has healed, there are several things you should avoid to prevent infection or unintentional transmission of the virus.

Firstly, it is recommended that individuals avoid pregnancy during this timeframe. There is a risk of infection in an unborn baby if the mother receives the vaccine while pregnant, which can result in stillbirth or death.

Additionally, it is recommended to avoid handling babies or breastfeeding during this time period.

Swimming and hot tub usage should also be avoided for 4 weeks after vaccination and until the vaccination site has completely healed to prevent further complications or infections.

Donating blood should be avoided post-vaccination as well.

It's important to note that smallpox vaccines may potentially cause TB test results to be inaccurate. Thus, avoiding Tuberculin (TB) testing is advised for up to 30 days following immunization with ACAM2000.

Until your skin gradually returns back to normal at the immunization site, certain activities are strongly discouraged. These activities include: rubbing, scratching or touching your skin at that area.

To lessen any accidental spread of vaccine virus while scab formation occurs over the healing wound area, interaction with certain individuals/groups must be highly avoided--especially those who cannot receive vaccinations. For instance: physical contact, close proximity--like being in close quarters involving confined spaces like household living rooms etc., sharing beddings/bathroom stuffs and contact via common toiletries/towels/clothes etc with people who haven't received smallpox vaccines are few strongly prohibited stance against exposure by health care personnel experts

Lastly while we do not know if pets can get infected by smallpox viruses from humans yet; It’s better advisable not expose your domestic pets like Cats/Dogs into contacting any section of the immunization site, at least for the first several weeks after vaccination period. Always take precautions by washing your hands immediately if upon contact occurs; and to avoid contamination, cover up the area or dressing securely till authorized vaccine care personnel examines your wound.

For more information on how to care for the smallpox vaccination site, refer to our How do I care for the smallpox vaccination site video.

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