Why Get Vaccinated

Anthrax has long been identified as a likely weapon of mass destruction for terrorists due to these characteristics:

  • Highly lethal bioterrorism agent
  • Relatively easy to produce in large quantities
  • Ability to be weaponized
  • Easily spread through the air over a large area
  • Ability to withstand extreme environmental conditions

Anthrax has also been identified as a Category A agent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)1.

It has also been predicted that an aerial release of anthrax spores along a 100 km line under ideal meteorologic conditions could result in lethality rate of 50% as far as 160 km downwind2.

U.S. and international security agencies believe that several countries and terrorist groups currently have or are developing an offensive biological warfare capability using anthrax. The threat can come from anywhere, affecting people anywhere in the world who will likely have little or no warning before an attack.

For these reasons, preventative protection is warranted for those at high risk of exposure to anthrax. To date, BioThrax has been administered for pre-exposure vaccination, to more than 3.3 million people.

Next: Common Vaccine Questions

1 Category Definitions. Bioterrorism Agents/Diseases by Category. Emergency Preparedness & Response. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/agentlist-category.asp

2 Science Applications International Corporation. Effectiveness of medical intervention against battlefield levels of Bacillus anthracis. 1993.




BioThrax is a vaccine indicated for the active immunization for the prevention of disease caused by Bacillus anthracis in persons 18 through 65 years of age. BioThrax is approved for:

  1. Pre-exposure prophylaxis of disease in persons at high risk of exposure.
  2. Post-exposure prophylaxis of disease following suspected or confirmed Bacillus anthracis exposure, when administered in conjunction with recommended antibacterial drugs.

The efficacy of BioThrax for post-exposure prophylaxis is based solely on studies in animal models of inhalational anthrax.


Severe allergic reaction (e.g. anaphylaxis) after a previous dose of BioThrax or a component of the vaccine.

Adverse Reactions

The most common (≥10%) local (injection-site) adverse reactions observed in clinical studies were tenderness, pain, erythema, edema, and arm motion limitation. The most common (≥5%) systemic adverse reactions were muscle aches, headache, and fatigue. Acute allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, have occurred with BioThrax.

Warnings and Precautions

Vaccination with BioThrax should be avoided by individuals with a history of anaphylactic or anaphylactic-like reaction following a previous dose of BioThrax or any component of the vaccine. If BioThrax is used during pregnancy, or if the patient becomes pregnant during the immunization series, the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to the fetus. Pregnant women should not be vaccinated unless the potential benefits of vaccination have been determined to outweigh the potential risk to the fetus. It is not known whether BioThrax is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk, caution should be exercised when BioThrax is administered to a nursing woman.

BioThrax should be administered with caution to persons with a possible history of latex sensitivity since the vial stopper contains dry natural rubber.