House passes First Responder Anthrax Preparedness Act
The bill would allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to distribute vaccines against anthrax to emergency-response personnel who wish to be vaccinated. These vaccines would come from the Strategic National Stockpile and reportedly have a short shelf life.
The bill also would disclose information regarding associated risks to those who take the vaccines.
This bill would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and would require DHS to coordinate intelligence capabilities to enhance protection and prevention activity against a potential anthrax attack or incident. It also would direct the department to relay any information and analytical support to biological-defense personnel and governments at the state, local and tribal levels.
DHS would need to establish education and communication platforms and training modules to support the program's implementation, as well as perform analysis on the economic effects of the program. Two states would be selected for pilot implementation.
The bill was introduced by U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) in March, and Govtrack.us said the bill has 50 co-sponsors -- 38 Republicans and 12 Democrats.
This unanimous vote follows a hearing on the recent accidental shipment of anthrax samples that contained small amounts of live material to a commercial lab.