The 6000 officers of the US Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps are being asked to volunteer for smallpox vaccine inoculation to help increase the nation's supply of vaccinia immunoglobulin. Collected via plasmapheresis 7 to 10 days after immunization, vaccinia immunoglobulin is used to counteract adverse effects of smallpox vaccination.
In late October, the office of the US Surgeon General sent a letter to all officers requesting their help: "It is possible that our national security may require a large-scale smallpox vaccination program. Smallpox vaccination can result in adverse reactions in some recipients. Individuals who have never previously been immunized against smallpox, especially those with a weakened immune system or with certain skin disorders, face an increased risk of serious adverse events (including death) when they receive the smallpox vaccination. Vaccinia immunoglobulin (VIG), which is prepared from plasma from individuals immunized against smallpox, can help treat these adverse reactions."
Vastag B. PHS Provides Immunoglobulin. JAMA. 2002;288(19):2397. doi:10.1001/jama.288.19.2397