Senate panel approves anthrax preparedness measure

The First Responder Anthrax Preparedness Act underwent a markup session in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee this week and was approved by the full committee on Wednesday.

This bill would facilitate a program that would allow the distribution of anthrax vaccines within the Strategic National Stockpile among first-response personnel in at-risk situations and on a voluntary basis.

The measure was introduced in August by U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Chris Coons (D-DE).

"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,” the senators said. “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."

As a part of the bill, logistics and outreach programs also would be established in order to inform responders of the available vaccinations and to be able to effectively distribute them. 

Co-sponsors of the bill include Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Shelly Morre (R-WV) and Gary Peters (D-MI).

A companion bill has been approved by the House of Representatives with no opposition.


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