Blue Ribbon Study Panel applauds bill to provide anthrax vaccine to emergency responders
"The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense is pleased to see Congress addressing the need for access to vaccines that would help protect our first responders against biological threats,” Lieberman said. “The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has advanced S. 1915, the First Responder Anthrax Preparedness Act – legislation to establish a voluntary anthrax vaccination program for first responders. The House has already unanimously passed a related bill, H.R. 1300. We are encouraged to see Congress acting in alignment with recommendations we have made to make expiring vaccine available to first responders who want them, to address biological risk, and to increase the sharing of information regarding the biological threat with our state, local, territorial and tribal emergency services communities. The nation must continue to demonstrate its commitment to protect these emergency service providers before they need to respond to the next biological event."
The First Responder Anthrax Preparedness Act calls for the establishment of a pilot program that would provide short dated vaccines on a voluntary basis from the Strategic National Stockpile to emergency responders.
The legislation was introduced by U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Chris Coons (D-DE) in August. The Senate mark up of the legislation began this week.
In addition to providing vaccines, the bill would establish logistical and tracking systems for making the vaccine available. It would also provide outreach as a means of educating emergency response providers about the program.