DoD to Resume Anthrax Vaccinations

The Department of Defense announced today a resumption of its Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program (AVIP) under the conditions set forth in the emergency use authorization (EUA) issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Jan. 27, 2005.

Based on the implementing memorandum signed by the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness on April 29, military commanders may resume the vaccination program upon authorization by their service. The directive memos also will be available at: .

The implementing program requires commanders to follow EUA conditions very carefully, providing members of the armed services both education on the program and an option to refuse the vaccination without penalty.

Dr. William Winkenwerder, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said this directive “is a significant step that allows the department to resume this vital protection measure for military personnel, who are at increased risk of exposure to an anthrax attack. We are pleased to be able to again protect our personnel against anthrax.”

On April 6, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted the government’s motion to modify the court’s AVIP injunction against mandatory anthrax vaccination from Oct. 27, 2004. This modification allowed the department to resume its anthrax vaccine program to prevent inhalation anthrax for designated personnel.

Once vaccinations begin, DoD will provide an education and information program, including an FDA-approved brochure, to inform potential vaccine recipients and healthcare providers that FDA has authorized the emergency use of anthrax vaccine to prevent inhalation anthrax. Personnel will also be informed about the vaccine’s benefits and side effects before they are asked to decide about vaccination.

For the most part, vaccinations during the period of the EUA will be limited to military units designated for homeland bioterrorism defense and to U.S. forces assigned to the Central Command area of responsibility and Korea.

Anthrax is a deadly infection, and anthrax vaccine is an important force protection measure. In the fall of 2001, 22 cases of anthrax resulted from attacks with anthrax spores. Five people died in these attacks.

From U.S. Dept. of Defense

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