View Full Version : Soldier’s death linked to smallpox vaccine

06-23-06, 10:23 AM
June 22, 2006

Soldier’s death linked to smallpox vaccine

By Gayle S. Putrich
Times staff writer

The December 2005 death of a soldier has been directly linked to the smallpox vaccine, according to the Defense Department.

Army Pfc. Christopher “Justin” Abston died suddenly in his Fort Bragg, N.C., barracks room 16 days after receiving the smallpox and flu vaccines.

“The smallpox vaccine received by Abston is known to cause an inflammation of the heart muscle, myocarditis, a condition found at his autopsy,” Pentagon officials said in a news release.

The main ingredient in the vaccine, vaccinia virus, was not found in Abston’s heart tissue. However, doctors did find evidence of parvovirus B19, which also causes heart inflammation. After six months of review, a panel of military doctors ruled that the test results “suggest the possibility that the vaccines may have caused Abston’s death.”

DoD estimates that about 1 million smallpox vaccine shots have been administered to service members since December 2002.

Of those, 120 developed myocarditis. Defense officials said Abston’s death is the first that seems to be directly related to the vaccine.

All troops assigned to U.S. Central Command, U.S. Forces Korea and certain homeland defense missions receive the smallpox vaccine. Those troops are screened before they are inoculated, and about 8 percent do not receive the vaccine for medical reasons.