In Code Orange by Caroline B. Cooney, why does the US gov't keep a stockpile of smallpox vaccine?

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Code Orange by Caroline B. Cooney, the protagonist Mitty unwittingly stumbles upon an envelope with scabs from the 1902 small pox epidemic.  In the story (and in real life), the U.S. government has a stockpile of small pox vaccines to innocuate people against the spread of the virus and protect against infection; this vaccine is incredibly important in safeguarding the American public against bio-terrorism, because nobody alive today has an immunity against the small pox virus.  If a live strand infiltrated society, the impact would be huge, because no living person has any built up resistance to it.  Fortunately, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the U.S. does have a huge stockpile of small pox vaccines, just in case an outbreak did occur.  In an emergency, the vaccine would be quickly distributed, protecting millions against infection.