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Members of the United States armed forces are receiving anthrax vaccine because of the threat of biologic terrorism using this organism. Concerns have been raised about the vaccine, but the experience to date has revealed no unexpected or unusual side effects. The Institute for Vaccine Safety has not conducted an independent assessment of the safety or effectiveness of anthrax vaccine, but is providing links for interested readers.

Evaluation of anthrax vaccine safety in 18 to 20 year olds: A first step towards age de-escalation studies in adolescents - May 2015. abstract | Vaccine 2015;33(21):2470.



Detailed Safety Review of Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed – January 2015. 
Compiled by the Immunization Healthcare Branch Defense Health Agency, Falls Church, Virginia). Link to report 

ACIP Recommendations – updated July 2012 [link].  Changes include:
1) reducing the number of doses required to complete the pre-event and preexposure primary series from 6 doses to 5 doses,
2) recommending intramuscular rather than subcutaneous AVA administration for preexposure use,
3) recommending AVA as a component of postexposure prophylaxis in pregnant women exposed to aerosolized Bacillus anthracis spores,
4) providing guidance regarding preexposure vaccination of emergency and other responder organizations under the direction of an occupational health program, and
5) recommending 60 days of antimicrobial prophylaxis in conjunction with 3 doses of AVA for optimal protection of previously unvaccinated persons after exposure to aerosolized B. anthracis spores.

CDC’s Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) updated March 2010 [link]

Stewart B, et al. Health-related quality of life in the CDC Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed Human Clinical Trial. Vaccine 2012;30(40):5875-9.
A study of more than 1500 participants found no association between receipt of Anthrax Vaccine and altered health-related quality of life over 3.5 years.  

Murphy D, et al. A longitudinal study of UK military personnel offered anthrax vaccination: informed choice, symptom reporting, uptake and pre-vaccination health. Vaccine 2012;30(6):1094-100.
UK service personnel were followed for 3-6 years after anthrax vaccination to assess long term health.  Anthrax vaccination was not associated with long term adverse health problems. However, symptoms were associated with making an uninformed choice to undergo the vaccination. The results are important both for the safety of the vaccine and for future policies should anthrax vaccination be required in either military or non military populations.

The US Department of Defense announced the continuation of the mandatory Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program "for military personnel, emergency-essential DoD civilians and contractors, based on defined geographic areas or roles". (News Release Oct 16 2006)

IOM Report: The Anthrax Vaccine: Is It Safe? Does It Work? reports the study’s conclusion that the vaccine is acceptably safe and effective in protecting humans against anthrax. The book also includes a description of advances needed in main areas: improving the way the vaccine is now used, expanding surveillance efforts to detect side effects from its use, and developing a better vaccine. (March 6, 2002).

Center for Health Security (formerly the Center for Biosecurity of UPMC) at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center - As of November 1, 2003, the faculty and staff formerly of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies are now affiliated with the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) located in Baltimore, MD.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

U.S. Department of Defense 

World Health Organization



This page was last updated on May 19, 2015

© 2015 Institute for Vaccine Safety