Military Vaccine Agency updates anthrax vaccine information

The U.S. Military Vaccine Agency, which merged with the Vaccine Healthcare Centers Network in October, recently updated its documentation on the Department of Defense's Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program.

According to MILVAX-VHCN, the Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program Questions and Answers document received its most recent update on January 2. The current DoD policy for anthrax vaccinations makes the anthrax vaccine mandatory for servicemembers, essential emergency designated civilians and contractor personnel performing mission-essential services assigned to specialty units with approved exception to policy, special units with biowarfare or bioterrorism related missions, the Korean Peninsula for 15 or more consecutive days or the Central Command area of responsibility for 15 or more consecutive days.

Vaccines must be administered up to 120 days prior to deployment or arrival in higher threat areas. Vaccinations are voluntary for servicemembers and government employees who are not in the mandatory groups and have received at least one dose of anthrax vaccine adsorbed during or after 1998.

The most recent changes for the route of administration and dosing schedule for AVA came on December 11, 2008, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a change in the route of administration from a subcutaneous injection to intramuscular.

The Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense is responsible to the DoD for maintaining an adequate stockpile of biological warfare defensive vaccines, including anthrax vaccine. The JPEO-CBD developed an anthrax vaccine production model to balance the total annual requirement for production with vaccination and inventory requirements.

The Military Vaccine Agency and the Vaccine Healthcare Centers Network became a single organization on October 1. The agencies support DoD vaccination programs to protect military servicemembers, their dependents and their beneficiaries. MILVAX-VHCN also provides educational support and training resources for clinicians and healthcare providers with the DoD.