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Children's Vaccines Health Center

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Immunizations - Bioterrorism and Immunizations

The United States government has developed plans on how to respond to possible bioterrorism threats.

A 2007 law called the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act ("Bioshield II") will help companies make more vaccines and drugs that protect against bioterror agents.10

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Certain diseases have been identified that pose the greatest threat to the U.S. public. At this time, there is a supply of anthrax and smallpox vaccines only. These immunizations are not currently available to or recommended for the general public. But the government has advised immunization for people at high risk of exposure to anthrax or smallpox, such as health care workers specifically designated to respond to a bioterrorism emergency. Some of these recommendations are listed below.

Anthrax vaccine(What is a PDF document?)

This shot protects against anthrax.

Who should get it?

  • This shot is for people at high risk of exposure, such as certain lab workers, people who work with imported animals where preventive standards are lacking (such as veterinarians who travel to work in other countries), and certain military members.

Five shots are given over 18 months. And booster shots are needed every year for continued protection (immunity).

Smallpox vaccine(What is a PDF document?)

This shot protects against smallpox.

Who should get it?

  • This shot is for certain health care and public health workers, infection-control specialists, and certain military members.

This shot is given once as several quick punctures on the upper arm, using a special prong device. Immunity after a first-time immunization is likely to be 3 to 5 years. If you have been immunized in the past, successful revaccination may extend your immunity.

The United States has enough smallpox vaccine to vaccinate Americans in an emergency.11

More information about these immunization recommendations can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at For general information about bioterrorism issues, see the topic Terrorism and Other Public Health Threats.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: April 01, 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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