The Department of Defense (DoD) will further slow its Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program (AVIP). This further AVIP slowdown is due to a shortage of FDA-released vaccine. This action is consistent with the vaccination program's previously announced plan to do so if the supply was not increased.
This further slowing limits immunizations to personnel in designated special mission units, anthrax vaccine research, and congressionally mandated studies, including collaborative projects with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). This slowdown provides for a small reserve of FDA-released vaccine in the event of an emergency. Actions are being taken to ensure that personnel deployed to high-threat areas have sufficient antibiotics on hand for post exposure treatment in case of an attack. As in previous program slowdowns, other individuals will defer anthrax vaccinations until adequate vaccine supplies exist to reinstate the AVIP.
This move is necessary to conserve available vaccine supply while protecting those servicemembers at greatest risk. The Department's Joint Program Office for Biologic Defense is working with the vaccine contractor in an effort to release vaccine by the first quarter of calendar year 2002.
Anthrax remains the top biological warfare threat to U.S. troops. Vaccination is the safest and most reliable way to protect servicemembers from a potential threat that is 99 percent lethal to unprotected, untreated individuals. DoD has vaccinated more than 511,000 servicemembers with more than two million doses of anthrax vaccine since March 1998.
More information about the Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program is at http://www.anthrax.osd.mil/ .