Friday, March 16, 2007

TOP STORY >>Anthrax shot program set to begin

By Tech. Sgt. Arlo Taylor
314th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Little Rock Air Force Base will begin implementation of the Defense Department’s anthrax immunization. There are two categories of eligibility – mandatory and voluntary.

The anthrax vaccinations are mandatory for Airmen who have orders for more than 15 consecutive days in specific high-threat areas — primarily the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility or Korean Peninsula, according to DOD officials.
According to base immunization officials, once members are selected for deployment, they will be put on list for mandatory vaccinations and they will receive their shots as part of the predeployment process.

The voluntary aspect is for members who have received at least one anthrax dose since 1998. They can choose to continue their series.

“The threat of anthrax is real,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Hoar, 314th Medical Group Immunizations NCOIC. “It provides you the protection you need. It’s a safe and effective vaccine and it does exactly what it is supposed to do.”

Another part of the anthrax immunization program is educating members on the vaccine. Members will get an information pamphlet every time they receive a shot, according to Sergeant Hoar. Airmen will be briefed by their commanders as well.
More information about anthrax vaccinations can be obtained from the DOD Anthrax Vaccine Implementation Program at


MYTH: Anthrax vaccine is dangerous and can cause death.
FACT: Anthrax vaccine is as safe as any other vaccine. Like any vaccine, death can occur after vaccination, but so few deaths can plausibly be associated to a specific vaccine or event that it is hard to evaluate the risk. For any vaccine, any death reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is thoroughly examined to ensure that it is not related to a new vaccine related problem. The Department of Defense, Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and an independent panel of civilian physicians review reports of death or serious illness that might possibly be associated with anthrax vaccination. These groups all agree that anthrax vaccine is not associated with any unexpected patterns of adverse events. The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine reported in March 2002, “There is no evidence that lifethreatening or permanently disabling immediate-onset adverse events occur at higher rates in individuals who have received AVA [U.S. anthrax vaccine] than in the general population.” In rare cases, patients experience serious adverse effects; these are treated and followed appropriately. ”

MYTH: Anthrax vaccine causes terrible side effects.
FACT: Based on over 30 years of anthrax vaccine use, we know that severe, but temporary, injection site reactions can occur. It is known that from 30 to 60 percent of people who receive anthrax vaccine will develop an injection site reaction (less than one inch). About 1 in 100 develops a reaction five inches in diameter or larger. The rate of side effects away from the injection site is about the same as other vaccines: from 5 to 35 percent, with these events going away within a few days. The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine reported in March 2002, “Local events, especially redness, swelling, or nodules at the injection site, are associated with receipt of AVA [U.S. anthrax vaccine], are similar to the events observed following receipt of other vaccines currently in use by adults, and are fairly common” and “There is no evidence that life-threatening or permanently disabling immediate-onset adverse events occur at higher rates in individuals who have received AVA than in the general population.”

MYTH: Women have long-term side effects from anthrax vaccine more than men.
FACT: Women experience more small injection site reactions than men. For skin reactions smaller than one inch in diameter, the likelihood is 60 percent for women and 30 percent for men. For side effects away from the injection site, the rates for men and women are about the same.

MYTH: Antibiotics are more effective than anthrax vaccine.
FACT: There is no better round-the-clock protection against anthrax infection than the anthrax vaccine. Antibiotics are effective when started immediately or very soon after exposure. However, not all exposures can be predicted in advance or even determined in very early stages, particularly in certain military situations. In such situations, the consequences for military personnel and their mission could be dire. This is not a risk DoD can afford to take. DoD will therefore vaccinate ahead of time for the best protection.


Post a Comment