Smallpox vaccine prevents the serious disease smallpox. Until 30 years ago, smallpox vaccine was a recommended part of regular health care. Vaccine was effective and eliminated the disease. The smallpox virus now exists only in a few high-security research laboratories. Recently, because of worry about smallpox as a possible weapon in bioterrorism or war, the U.S. Surgeon General recommended that American health care workers get preexposure smallpox vaccine (that is, receive the vaccine even though no cases of the disease exist). Smallpox vaccine has serious side effects, including death. The vaccine may also cause sores all over the body. People with atopic dermatitis or eczema, which are common, nonserious skin conditions, are at higher risk for this side effect than people without these conditions. Atopic dermatitis and eczema cause red, itchy patches on the skin that come and go over time. People who have (or have ever had) these skin conditions themselves or have lived with someone who has one of these conditions should not get smallpox vaccine unless they are actually exposed to smallpox.