The Department of Defense (DoD) will further slow its anthrax vaccine immunization Program (AVIP). This action is consistent with its previously announced plan to do so if supply was not increased by year's end. This further slowing reduces vaccinations in all theaters except Southwest Asia. This move is necessary to conserve available vaccine supply while protecting those service members at greatest risk and maintaining a contingency reserve for unexpected domestic or terrorist requirements. A full resumption of the vaccination effort will begin when a sufficient supply of FDA-approved and certified safe and effective vaccine is available next year.
Anthrax remains the top biological warfare threat to U.S. troops and vaccination is the safest, most reliable way to protect servicemembers from a potential threat that is 99 percent lethal to unprotected, untreated individuals. More than 495,000 servicemembers have started their vaccinations and nearly two million vaccinations have been given. While progress continues to be made in the re-licensing effort at Bioport, it is unlikely that production will resume in time to allow maintaining a contingency reserve without the additional slowdown.
According to Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Randall L. West, senior advisor to the deputy secretary of Defense for Chemical and Biological Protection, "We are now focusing our vaccination efforts on those members serving in areas deemed to be at greatest risk, and that is Southwest Asia. We take this action to responsibly manage our limited supply of anthrax vaccine while we continue our efforts toward FDA licensing of the anthrax vaccine production facility and resumed vaccine production."