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.
The anthrax vaccine protects against anthrax. It does not contain cells that cause anthrax.
The vaccine is for those 18 to 65 years old who:
For those at risk, the vaccine is given in 3 doses. It is followed by booster shots. This gives ongoing protection.
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.
Talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine if you have:
To reduce the risk of anthrax:
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.
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