A bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced the First Responder Anthrax Preparedness Act, the office of Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) announced Tuesday.
Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Chris Coons (D-DE) joined Ayotte in introducing the bill, which had received unanimous support from the House of Representatives in July.
The bill would allow first response personnel to receive anthrax vaccination from surplus doses in the Strategic National Stockpile, specifically those doses that have a short shelf life of efficacy.
"The Strategic National Stockpile serves an important public health and safety purpose as a reserve of medicine and medical supplies to be deployed in the event of a major public health emergency, such as a terrorist attack against our nation," they said in a joint statement. "Unfortunately, an estimated 4 million doses expire unused each year and are thrown away, when they could instead be used to better protect our first responders and help prepare them to respond to possible anthrax attacks.
This bill has been endorsed by the Alliance for Biosecurity, the International Association of Emergency Medical Services Chiefs and the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
"[We] are hopeful that the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will take up and pass our legislation so that we can better support the first responders we rely upon in emergency situations," the senators said.