Volunteer for NIAID-funded clinical studies related to anthrax on ClinicalTrials.gov.
In 1970, the Food and Drug Administration approved an anthrax vaccine for humans which is licensed for limited use. The vaccine is currently used to protect members of the military and people most at risk for occupational exposure to the bacteria, such as slaughterhouse workers, veterinarians, laboratory workers, and livestock handlers. The vaccine does not contain the whole bacterium. Rather, it is made mostly of the anthrax protective antigen protein, so people cannot get anthrax infection from the vaccine.
Health experts currently do not recommend the vaccine for general use by the public because anthrax illness is rare and the vaccine potentially can cause adverse side effects in some people. Researchers have not determined the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. Although the vaccine trials indicate that three to four doses of anthrax vaccine can generate significant protective immunity, the recommended vaccination schedule is five doses given over an 18-month period and efforts are underway to reduce the number of doses further. Nonetheless, to enhance public protection in the event of an anthrax bioterror attack, scientists are seeking to develop an improved anthrax vaccine.
Last Updated August 04, 2010
Last Reviewed August 04, 2010