CDC changes anthrax vaccine recommendations

New details have been released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concerning recommendations made in February by its vaccine advisory group about Americans receiving anthrax shots.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices's report outlines five changes to the administration of anthrax vaccines, two of which had previously been announced in a February report.

Among the previously announced recommendations were changes to the number of initial doses from six to five and a change to the administration route from subcutaneous to intramuscular.

These two changes arose from results revealed during ongoing clinical trials that are meant to gauge the ability to reduce the long immunization series and side effects.

The three new recommendations, CIDRAP News reports, provide guidance on preexposure vaccination for emergency workers and first responders, recommend BioThrax as part of postexposure prophylaxis in pregnant women, and reccomend 60 days of antibiotic prophylaxis combined with three doses of BioThrax for optimal postexposure protection of unvaccinated people.

The recommendation for pregnant women to receive BioThrax follows a recent study of military women who were inadvertently vaccinated while pregnant. Pregnant women are currently exempted from anthrax vaccination by a Department of Defense policy.

According to the study, CIDRAP News reports, women who received the vaccine during their first trimester carried a slightly higher risk of birth defects, however, when the first-trimester group was compared with women vaccinated outside of the first trimester, the risk was not statistically significant.