Rev Esp Quimioter 2015:28(3):125-131

The late media emergency of smallpox vaccine, news coverage of Spanish press (1999-2004)                                 



Introduction. Discussions on the need for smallpox virus preservation in 1999 focused attention on an eradicated disease 20 years ago. Smallpox was replaced as a potential candidate to be used as a bioterrorist weapon because of the international alarm scenario produced after the 11/9 events in USA. The reactivation of a vaccine which remained forgotten was the direct consequence. The initial target groups were the security forces of America. Spain was also among the countries that were interested in acquiring the smallpox vaccine. The aim of this study is to analyze the considerable media coverage of smallpox obtained in our country.
Methods. Systematic review of published news in the four largest national daily newspapers (ABC, El Mundo, El País and La Vanguardia) for the period 1999-2004 of the Dow Jones Factiva document database. “Smallpox” were used as a key word. From the obtained data, a qualitative and quantitative analysis was done.
Results. 416 reviews were analyzed; the newspaper El Mundo was the most interested in these news (158 citations, 37.98%). Most of the news were published in 2003 (152, 36.5%) The year with more news about smallpox (2003) coincides with the purchase of vaccines in Spain. The type of messages in the news was highly changeable over this six-year period. Those related to “politics and diplomacy”, “epidemiological risk”, “bioterrorism” and “vaccine” were predominant.
Conclusions. The alarm raised around the smallpox vaccination was a media phenomenon due to political strategy issues rather than a real public health problem.

Rev Esp Quimioter 2015:28(3):125-131 [pdf]