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Terrorism and Other Public Health Threats

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Bioterrorism and Vaccinations

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed plans on how to respond to bioterrorism threats. Certain diseases have been identified as posing the greatest threat. These diseases are:

Although the CDC is addressing all of these potential threats, vaccines are available only for anthrax and smallpox. Currently these vaccines are not recommended for the general public. But the CDC has advised special vaccinations for people at high risk for exposure to anthrax or smallpox, such as certain health care workers or military personnel. For more information, see:

  • Anthrax vaccine recommendations(What is a PDF document?). The anthrax vaccine can be given for two reasons:
    • To protect people at high risk of being exposed to anthrax. This type of vaccination is given in a series of shots over 18 months. Booster shots are then needed every year to stay protected.
    • To treat people who have already been exposed to anthrax. For this purpose the vaccine is given as a series of shots over 4 weeks.
  • Smallpox vaccination recommendations(What is a PDF document?). The smallpox vaccine is given with a pronged device or a solid needle that delivers quick punctures to the upper arm.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 27, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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