What Does This Vaccine Help Prevent?
This vaccine helps prevent anthrax— a disease caused by bacteria and spores. It can cause a range of flu-like symptoms. Serious forms can harm the brain and lungs. It can be fatal if not treated.
What Is the Anthrax Vaccine?
The anthrax vaccine protects against anthrax. It does not contain cells that cause anthrax.
Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?
The vaccine is for those 18 to 65 years old who:
- Work with livestock and their products
- Work with the anthrax bacteria
- Are in the military
For those at risk, the vaccine is given in 3 doses. It is followed by booster shots. This gives ongoing protection.
What Are the Risks Associated With the Anthrax Vaccine?
The most common side effects are pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site. Some may have headaches or tiredness.
Rare but serious risks include a serious allergic reaction—anaphylaxis.
Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?
Talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine if you have:
- Had an allergic reaction to anthrax vaccines
- Had Guillain-Barré syndrome
- A serious illness
What Other Ways Can Anthrax Be Prevented Besides Vaccination?
To reduce the risk of anthrax:
- Stay away from infected livestock and their products.
- Do not touch anthrax wounds.
- Handle suspicious mail and packages carefully.
What Happens in the Event of an Outbreak?
Public health officials will work to find the source of anthrax. Anthrax testing and antibiotics can help prevent infection.
Anthrax has no color, odor, or taste. If you think you came in contact with it, seek medical care right away.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization
Anthrax immune globulin. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/drug-monograph/anthrax-immune-globulin. Accessed January 28, 2021.
Anthrax vaccine absorbed. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/drug-monograph/anthrax-vaccine-adsorbed. Accessed January 28, 2021.
Anthrax VIS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/anthrax.html. Accessed January 28, 2021.
Bower WA, Schiffer J, Atmar RL, et al. Use of anthrax vaccine in the United States: recommendations of the advisory committee on immunization practices, 2019. MMWR Recomm Rep 0019;68(No. RR-4):1–14.
Products approved for anthrax. US Food & Drug Administration website. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/EmergencyPreparedness/BioterrorismandDrugPreparedness/ucm063485.htm. Accessed January 28, 2021.
Last reviewed September 2020 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP Last Updated: 1/28/2021