anthrax vaccine

What to know about the anthrax vaccine

Anthrax is a potentially deadly infectious disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. The anthrax vaccine is a preventive measure against anthrax and is primarily given to those at high risk of exposure to the bacterium, such as military personnel, laboratory workers, and livestock handlers.

In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss what the anthrax vaccine is, how it works, its safety and effectiveness, side effects, administration, and other important information about the vaccine.

What is the Anthrax Vaccine?

The anthrax vaccine is a vaccine that helps to protect against anthrax. The vaccine contains a small amount of inactivated anthrax bacteria that stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies to fight the bacteria if exposed in the future. The anthrax vaccine is made from a sterile filtrate of an avirulent strain of B. anthracis called the anthrax vaccine adsorbed (AVA).

How does the Anthrax Vaccine work?

The anthrax vaccine works by stimulating the immune system to produce antibodies against the anthrax bacteria. When the vaccine is given, the body recognizes the inactivated anthrax bacteria as a foreign invader and produces antibodies to fight it. If the person is later exposed to the live anthrax bacteria, their immune system is already primed to recognize and fight it, reducing the risk of infection.

Is the Anthrax Vaccine safe and effective?

The anthrax vaccine is considered safe and effective, and it has been in use for more than 40 years. The vaccine has been tested extensively in clinical trials and has been given to millions of people without serious adverse events.

Studies have shown that the anthrax vaccine is highly effective in preventing anthrax infection. The vaccine has been found to be 93% effective in preventing cutaneous (skin) anthrax and up to 92% effective in preventing inhalation anthrax.

However, it is important to note that the anthrax vaccine does not provide immediate protection. It takes several doses over several weeks to build up immunity, and a booster shot is needed every 12 months to maintain immunity.

Side Effects of the Anthrax Vaccine

Like all vaccines, the anthrax vaccine can cause side effects, but they are generally mild and go away on their own within a few days. Some common side effects include:

Pain, swelling, and redness at the injection site


Muscle aches




Rarely, the anthrax vaccine can cause more serious side effects, including:

Severe allergic reaction

Guillain-Barre Syndrome (a rare neurological disorder)

Arthritis or joint pain

Anaphylaxis (a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction)

It is important to note that the risk of serious side effects from the anthrax vaccine is very low, and the benefits of protection against anthrax outweigh the risks of the vaccine.

Who should receive the Anthrax Vaccine?

The anthrax vaccine is recommended for individuals at high risk of exposure to anthrax, including:

Military personnel who may be deployed to areas where anthrax is a threat

Laboratory workers who handle anthrax bacteria

Livestock handlers who may come into contact with anthrax-contaminated animal products

People who work in industries that process animal hides or furs

The anthrax vaccine is not routinely recommended for the general public, as the risk of exposure to anthrax is very low for most people.

Administration of the Anthrax Vaccine

The anthrax vaccine is given as a series of six injections over a period of 18 months.

Anastasia Filipenko

Anastasia Filipenko is a health and wellness psychologist, dermatolist and a freelance writer. She frequently covers beauty and skincare, food trends and nutrition, health and fitness and relationships. When she's not trying out new skincare products, you'll find her taking a cycling class, doing yoga, reading in the park, or trying a new recipe.

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