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The Anthrax Vaccine: A Dilemma for Homeland Security/LtCol Tom Rempfer

Posted Aug 13 2009 8:02pm
This article, from the journal Homeland Security Affairs, recaps the history of the anthrax vaccine program and explores how the anthrax letters attack might be related to it.

Past problems with the Department of Defense anthrax vaccine currently impact
national emergency response plans approved by the Department of Homeland
Security and Department of Health and Human Services. Following the 2001 anthrax letter attacks, those departments diverged from long established protocols advocating limited use of the old anthrax vaccine, also known as BioThrax®. The Executive departments procured mass quantities of the product for the Strategic National Stockpile as a prophylaxis for citizens under emergency contingencies.
The departments share oversight responsibilities for the emergency stockpile’s
composition of vaccines and drugs based on Presidential Directives. (1) Yet a
review of past oversight efforts reveals regulatory problems, ethical controversies and dubious threat assessments underlying use of the vaccine. Based on the historic controversy, and studies suggesting the majority of U.S. service members continue to object to the vaccine’s use, (2) the government should resurvey the vaccine’s suitability for American citizens. A thorough review may find that widespread use of a known antiquated product of disputed safety and efficacy in treating a non- communicable threat provides an imprudent illusion of protection for our citizens.

This article explores the Department of Defense’s experience with the anthrax vaccine, and the troubling possibility that the 2001 anthrax letter attacks were a deliberate and successful effort to sustain a program that federal investigators determined was on the verge of failing. . .

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