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An anthrax vaccine is available for protection against the bacteria that cause the disease (Bacillus anthracis). The vaccine is only recommended for high-risk populations, such as people who work directly with anthrax in the laboratory. Health experts currently do not recommend the vaccine for general use by the public because anthrax illness is rare, and in some cases, the vaccine can have adverse side effects.

What Is the Anthrax Vaccine?

An anthrax vaccine is available for protection against the anthrax bacteria (Bacillus anthracis). The vaccine is currently only recommended for high-risk populations. The anthrax vaccine does not contain the whole bacterium; rather, it is made mostly of the anthrax protective antigen protein.
 

Who Should Receive the Vaccine?

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended the anthrax vaccine for the following groups:
 
  • People who work directly with anthrax in the laboratory
     
  • People who handle potentially infected animal products in a high-incidence area, such as slaughterhouse workers or livestock handlers
     
  • Veterinarians who travel to work in countries where anthrax occurs more frequently
     
  • People who work with imported animal hides or furs in areas where standards are insufficient to prevent exposure to anthrax spores
     
  • Military personnel deployed to areas with a high risk for exposure to anthrax.
     

Who Should Not Receive the Anthrax Vaccine?

Health experts currently do not recommend the vaccine for general use by the public because anthrax illness is rare, and the vaccine has potential adverse side effects. Researchers have not determined the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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