About this document

The information in this document is provided as guidance for fire fighters and emergency medical responders and their employers regarding the smallpox virus and vaccination program. The goal of this document is to strike a balance between protecting our members from this disease and protecting their rights.


The government of the United States believes that there is a threat of a possible biological attack on our civilians utilizing the smallpox virus. Smallpox has significant health effects, including death, for those exposed.


There is no treatment for smallpox and the only effective way of preventing the disease is vaccination.  However, there are serious complications and contraindications associated with smallpox vaccination.


The decision whether to receive the smallpox vaccine is a personal one for IAFF members and other first responders.  This document was prepared to give you the best possible information on smallpox vaccination so that you can make an informed and educated decision based on your individual circumstances.


Besides ensuring that your employer has adopted a comprehensive vaccination program, you should thoroughly review the pros and cons of smallpox vaccination as outlined in this document.  It is your health and, in some cases, your life at stake and no one can make the decision but you.


The IAFF will continuously update this document as more data is available and as conditions change.


Download a printable version of this entire document (PDF, 720KB).