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Information on anthrax, anthrax vaccine, biological warfare
Wed Aug 6, 2008 14:49

Information on anthrax, anthrax vaccine, biological warfare
This website was designed as a source of accurate
information on the U.S. human anthrax vaccine, originally
named MDPH-PA or AVA and renamed BioThrax in January 2002.
The vaccine has been given to over 1,400,000 servicemembers
and some civilians since March, 1998. Information on
smallpox vaccine and bioterrorism was added later.

I am a practicing physician. This page includes some of my
writings on these subjects, including four Congressional
testimonies, and a variety of other materials that I hope
will be useful for those persons making a decision about
taking the vaccine, dealing with bioterrorism, or those
doing scholarly research on either subject.

Meryl Nass, MD
Diplomate, American Board of Internal Medicine
Mount Desert Island Hospital
Bar Harbor, Maine 04609
(207) 288-5082 ext. 220
(207)-244-9165 Home


Military medical providers have been loathe to file anthrax vaccine adverse event reports due to perceived adverse effects on their careers if they do so. This probably stems from the instruction to medical providers NOT to report adverse events unless the patient missed more than 24 hours of work, was hospitalized, or contamination of an entire lot of vaccine was suspected.[1]

Therefore, after changing this guidance in response to Congressional testimony about the failures to file,[2] repeated instructions to file these reports by top military leaders have been issued to providers in 1999,[3] 2000[4] and 2004.[5] This would suggest that military medical providers continued to fail to file the reports.

For anthrax vaccine, each VAERS report involving anthrax vaccine between 1998 and 2001 was reviewed by an independent panel of civilian physicians. This panel detected no patterns of unexpected adverse events related to anthrax vaccination. Despite the extensive body of knowledge regarding the safety of anthrax vaccine, safety monitoring continues, as is prudent for all vaccines and medications.

The independent panel wrote two published papers on their analysis. Contrary to the claim that no patterns of unexpected adverse events were found, the second paper,[6] which reviewed more cases than the first, found several patterns of Gulf War Illness-like reports to VAERS at 2 to 3 times the expected rate in anthrax vaccine recipients.

As directed by the 2001 National Defense Authorization Act, the DoD and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have collaborated to establish a Vaccine Healthcare Center Network, a system for enhancing the monitoring of vaccine associated adverse events experienced by uniformed services members. This monitoring assists in determining the need for immunization safety assessments and possible alternative management strategies to preserve deployability of those who experience adverse reactions.

The network functions as an allergy-immunology clinical evaluation unit specializing in vaccine-associated adverse events and is accessible to DoD beneficiaries either directly or on a referral basis. The VHC maintains a capability to support a comprehensive vaccine safety assessment program. The scope of services is broad and ranges from surveillance through enhanced vaccine adverse events reporting and case management of complex adverse events. The Network assists in data collection and standardization in support of improvement of the vaccine adverse events reporting system (VAERS) for all required vaccines including the anthrax vaccine. Emphasis is placed on standardization of clinical and educational programs that focus on healthcare provider and beneficiary understanding of immunizations and vaccine safety. Clinical research partnerships have been developed to validate clinical guidelines and support improvements in vaccine healthcare delivery.

The discussion of the VHC network above is correct. However, several points should be added. First, many more clinics were initially envisioned, but the number of clinics created stopped at four. Second, funding for this network has been threatened during the past two funding cycles and remains in question. Staff have resigned, and there have been absent medical directors at some clinics, which are primarily staffed by nurse practitioners. Third, although the mission of the VHCs was, in part, to perform research on vaccine reactions, there are no published papers or research reports available from the VHC network. No ongoing research projects have been announced to the public. Fourth, although at least 1,700 complete reviews of patients reporting illnesses related to anthrax vaccine have been performed,[7] the VHCs have failed to provide information on the types of reactions they have evaluated, other contributing factors, their thoughts on causality and treatment, which would greatly assist other medical providers.

Surveillance Program for Long-term Health Effects of AVA.
full report:


Vaccination and Reproductive Health
1) Can the anthrax vaccine be taken by military members who are pregnant?

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