Anthrax is a serious illness. It can affect both humans and
animals. Anthrax can be transmitted through infected animal products. It has,
in the past, been used as a weapon.
Anthrax is caused by a type of bacteria known as Bacillus
anthracis. There are three types of anthrax related illnesses:
disease – caused by handling infected products
disease – caused by eating raw or undercooked, infected meat
disease – caused by breathing in bacteria or spores
Vaccination can reduce the risk of cutaneous (skin) disease
and inhalation disease. Aggressive antibiotic therapy may be able to cure some
The anthrax vaccine is not available to the public. It’s used
for people whose jobs put them at high risk of anthrax exposure like:
people working with animals or animal products
The anthrax vaccine is only provided to high-risk adults
between the ages of 18 and 65.
It’s administered in five doses. The first dose should be injected
into the muscle as soon as exposure risk is identified. The next four doses
should be given:
Yearly booster shots can be given if ongoing protection is
In certain cases, people with known anthrax exposures are
vaccinated. These people are given three doses of vaccine under their skin. The
second and third doses are given at two and four weeks.
Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?
Individuals who are advised not to get the anthrax vaccine
who have had a severe allergic reaction to previous anthrax vaccination
allergic to vaccine components
people with a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS)
with a current moderate or
Pregnant women should not be vaccinated unless they are at
risk of inhalation anthrax. Nursing mothers can be vaccinated safely.
Potential Side Effects
Severe allergic reactions to this vaccine are very rare.
They occur in less than one out of every 100,000 doses. However, mild and
moderate side effects are quite common. These include:
at the site of the shot like tenderness, redness, itching, a lump, bruising
limited arm movement
Recognizing an Allergic Reaction
Any severe allergic reaction would likely occur within an
hour of vaccination. Symptoms include:
of the throat
These symptoms require immediate medical attention.