"Our vaccination program is critical to our warfighting readiness, as well as a tool in ensuring the safety and welfare of our personnel." VADM Dan Oliver, Chief of Naval Personnel
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- Highly lethal
- Easy to produce in large quantities
- Relatively easy to develop as a weapon
- Easily spread in the air over a large area
- Easily stored and remains dangerous for a long time
Anthrax is a lethal weapon that could be used against deployed personnel. Vaccination before exposure is a critical part of the protection against this weapon. Is the vaccine all that is needed to protect against inhalation anthrax? Being fully vaccinated greatly increases the chances of surviving an exposure to anthrax. Chances are further improved by other measures, especially the proper use of the protective masks.
No, the anthrax vaccine has been approved by the FDA since 1970. Michigan Biologic Products Institute (now the Bioport Corporation) licensed the vaccine (No. 99) and is the only manufacturer.
Yes, this vaccine has been safely and routinely administered in the U.S. to veterinarians, laboratory workers, and livestock handlers since 1970. No reports of serious adverse effects have been received by the manufacturer.
The anthrax vaccine should be administered only to healthy men and women from 18 to 65 years of age because investigations to date have been conducted exclusively in that population.
Anthrax vaccine, like other vaccines in the U.S., is classified as "Pregnancy Category C," which means that animal reproduction studies have not been conducted with anthrax vaccine. Therefore, prudent medical practice dictates that all vaccinations, including anthrax, should be routinely deferred during pregnancy unless clearly needed.
If a person has an active infection or is taking some prescription medications, a decision to give the vaccine will be made on a case by case basis.
No. Several national scientific groups, including the National Academy of Sciences, have addressed this issue and have found no evidence to link the anthrax vaccine with illnesses among Gulf War veterans.
No. The vaccination has been routinely used for the past 28 years and has not been associated with sterility. Although we cannot conduct experiments with lethal agents on the human reproductive system (for ethical reasons), there is ample evidence that it does not cause any harm or sterility.
As with other vaccinations, pain may occur at the site of injection. Temporary side effects (sore arm, redness, and slight swelling) may occur. The vaccine has been in use since 1970 with no known long-term side effects.
Yes. This program will be treated like any other vaccine that is required to prepare you for deployment. You will be required to take it unless medically deferred.
Your commander. In addition, more information on the anthrax vaccine can be accessed at the web sites listed on this site.
Are DoD's mandatory anthrax inoculations really safe? Why is anthrax suddenly such a big deal? Why doesn't DoD make the shots optional and let each of us decide for ourselves what protection we need? If you've asked any of these questions, you are in good company, because many service members have since May. That's when Defense Secretary William Cohen made the anthrax vaccinations mandatory. You can find out why and answers to many other questions at "Countering the Anthrax Threat," a new Web site highlighted on "DefenseLink" DoD's Internet home page at http://www.anthrax.osd.mil/.
Last Update: 23 July 2009