During the early 1960s, concern that smallpox could be imported into the United States, and a broader interest in solving health challenges facing humanity, catalyzed the U.S. government’s commitment for global smallpox eradication, which culminated on November 23, 1965, with a White House press release announcing plans for smallpox and measles vaccination campaigns for West Africa. Shortly afterward, in January 1966, the CDC Smallpox Eradication Program was established in the Office of the CDC Director, demonstrating strong agency-wide commitment to smallpox eradication and enabling deployment of resources across the agency. Ultimately, approximately 300 CDC staff members participated in the eradication initiative, and smallpox was declared eradicated by the World Health Organization in 1980.
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