US Airman Developed Inflamed Heart After Smallpox Vaccine

In 2003, an airman proceeded to go to the emergency room at South Georgia Medical Center eight days following the administration of a smallpox vaccine. He was complaining of chest discomfort and shortness of breath.

On assessment, Saurina and colleagues documented pea-size lymph nodes in the left neck and underarm. The airman also experienced pain around the left pectoral region. It was observed that previously described areas were in close proximity to the vaccination site.

It was determined the airman developed myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart, as a consequence of the smallpox vaccination.

The airman was provided an injection of ketorolac tromethamine, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, soon after encountering chest discomfort on the second day. His situation improved was released by the third day; nevertheless, the long-term diagnosis for his condition is not known.

Several viruses have been associated to myocarditis. Even so, up until recently, it has been an uncommon or unacknowledged event following vaccination.

Nevertheless, 18 instances of myopericarditis were recorded following the smallpox vaccine between December 2002 and March 2003 in a military vaccination campaign.

Postvaccinial myocarditis is listed as a possible side effect on the vaccine insert. The Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System has documented 109 adverse events involving the Smallpox Vaccine and the Myocardium since 2000.

Although the World Health Organization declared smallpox eradicated on May 8th, 1980, the World servicemen and woman are still routinely vaccinated for the disease.

Saurina and colleagues expressed concern stating, “Clinicians providing care to patients who have chest complaints after smallpox vaccination should be aware of the existence of postvaccinial myocarditis, which seems to be more common than previously thought.”


1. [Saurina G. Myocarditis after Smallpox Vaccination: A Case Report. CID 2003:37 (1 July); 145-146]





6. ACAM2000 Smallpox Vaccine Insert

7. Cangene Smallpox Vaccine Insert

About the author

Jeffry John Aufderheide

Jeffry John Aufderheide is the father of a child injured as a result of vaccination. As editor of, he promotes well-educated health professionals, informed consent, and full disclosure and accountability of adverse reactions to vaccines.