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Why you have probably not gotten the smallpox vaccine

Interest in the centuries-old treatment has increased because of monkeypox.

HOUSTON — As concern spreads about monkeypox and cases rise some people are looking for protection. One of the best ways to prevent the spread is the smallpox vaccine.

Considered the first vaccine ever used in the west, it emerged in the 18th century when smallpox was a deadly and devastating virus. The vaccine evolved over time and proved effective at stopping this once global killer. By 1980 the World Health Assembly declared it eradicated.

RELATED: Yes, smallpox vaccines offer protection against monkeypox

Smallpox was considered eradicated in the U.S. even earlier so by 1972, routine vaccinations for the virus ended.

According to the New York Health Department, the U.S. government only provided the smallpox vaccine to a few hundred scientists and medical professionals who worked with smallpox and similar viruses doing research.

RELATED: Monkeypox: Houston Health Department offering vaccince to high-risk groups

After 9-11, concerns about biological weapons increased and the government began to stockpile the vaccine.

Even if you were vaccinated prior to 1972, it may not provide lifelong protection from monkeypox.

The CDC reports that during a 2003 outbreak and the current one in the U.S., several people who were infected had been vaccinated against smallpox decades before. They do believe you have some protection. If you believe you are at risk your best bet is to talk to a doctor about your options.

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