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anthrax vaccine

Generic Name: anthrax vaccine (ANTH rax vax EEN)
Brand Name: Biothrax

What is anthrax vaccine?

Anthrax is a disease caused by infection with a spore-forming bacteria. It usually occurs in animals such as sheep, goats, cattle, deer, antelope, and other herbivores. Anthrax can also occur in people who are exposed to an infected animal or other source of the anthrax bacteria.

Anthrax is most common in agricultural regions lacking in good veterinary prevention programs, especially in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Southeastern Europe. Although less common, anthrax does occur in the United States among both wild game animals and domestic livestock.

Anthrax is spread to a human through the skin, the stomach, or the lungs. The bacteria can enter the skin through a cut or wound that comes into contact with products from an infected animal (such as meat, wool, hide, or hair). Infection can also occur through the lungs when a person inhales the bacterial spore, or through the stomach when a person eats undercooked meat from an infected animal. Anthrax is a serious disease that can spread quickly throughout the body and it is fatal in a high number of cases, especially when acquired through the lungs.

Anthrax vaccine is used to help prevent this disease in adults with a high risk of exposure to the anthrax bacteria in certain work settings, while traveling, or during military service. This vaccine works by exposing you to an antigen protein that causes your body to develop immunity to the disease. Anthrax vaccine does not contain live or killed forms of the bacteria that causes anthrax.

Anthrax vaccine will not treat an active infection that has already developed in the body.

Like any vaccine, the anthrax vaccine may not provide protection from disease in every person.

What is the most important information I should know about anthrax vaccine?

You should not receive this vaccine if you have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to an anthrax vaccine.

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What should I discuss with my health care provider before receiving anthrax vaccine?

You should not receive this vaccine if you have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to an anthrax vaccine.

To make sure anthrax vaccine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • an allergy to latex, aluminum hydroxide, benzothonium chloride, or formaldehyde;

  • a weak immune system caused by receiving certain medicines such as steroids, chemotherapy or radiation; or

  • if you take a blood thinner (warfarin, Coumadin, Jantoven).

Vaccines may be harmful to an unborn baby and generally should not be given to a pregnant woman. However, not vaccinating the mother could be more harmful to the baby if the mother becomes infected with a disease that this vaccine could prevent. Your doctor will decide whether you should receive this vaccine, especially if you have a high risk of infection with anthrax.

It is not known whether anthrax vaccine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How is anthrax vaccine given?

This vaccine is given as an injection (shot) into a muscle or under the skin.

Anthrax vaccine is recommended for adults age 18 through 65 in the following situations:

  • people who handle anthrax bacteria in a laboratory or other work setting;

  • people who handle animal hides or furs imported from areas where anthrax is common;

  • people who handle meat or other animal products in areas where anthrax is common;

  • veterinarians who travel to countries where anthrax is common; and

  • military personnel at risk of exposure through potential biological warfare when anthrax may be used as a weapon.

The anthrax vaccine is given in a series of shots. An annual booster shot is also recommended every year during possible exposure to anthrax. Follow your doctor's instructions or the booster schedule recommended by the health department of the state where you live.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Contact your doctor if you will miss a booster dose or if you get behind schedule. The next dose should be given as soon as possible. There is no need to start over.

Be sure you receive all recommended doses of this vaccine. You may not be fully protected against disease if you do not receive the full series.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of this vaccine is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid before or after receiving anthrax vaccine?

Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

Anthrax vaccine side effects

You should not receive a booster vaccine if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. When you receive a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shot caused any side effects.

Becoming infected with anthrax is much more dangerous to your health than receiving this vaccine. However, like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;

  • fever, chills, body aches, nausea, flu symptoms; or

  • severe swelling or a hard lump where the shot was given.

Common side effects include:

  • mild redness, swelling, or tenderness where the shot was given;

  • trouble moving the injected arm;

  • muscle pain;

  • tired feeling; or

  • headache.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1 800 822 7967.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

Anthrax vaccine dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Anthrax Prophylaxis:

Less than 65 years: 0.5 mL subcutaneously every 2 weeks for 3 doses, followed by 0.5 mL at 6, 12, and 18 months. Annual booster injections are recommended thereafter.

What other drugs will affect anthrax vaccine?

Before receiving this vaccine, tell the doctor about all other vaccines you have recently received.

Other drugs may interact with anthrax vaccine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about this vaccine. Additional information is available from your local health department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 2.01. Revision Date: 2014-01-09, 8:49:38 AM.

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