Children may be vaccinated with anthrax to test if they can survive bioterrorism attack

Daily Mail
25.10.2011
By Daily Mail Reporter

The Obama administration is considering whether scientists should inject healthy children with the anthrax vaccine to see if it would protect them from a bioterrorism attack.

A working group of federal advisers endorsed testing last month and the National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB) will meet on Friday to vote on its recommendation.

But critics have called the plans unethical, unnecessary and dangerous and children should only be vaccinated in the face of an actual threat.

The anthrax vaccine has been tested extensively in adults and more than 2.6million members of the armed forces have also been inoculated, the newspaper said.

But there is no data on how well the vaccine works on children, or whether it would be safe.

Joel Frader, a paediatrician and bioethicist at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, told the Post: ‘It would be difficult to justify testing it on kids simply on the hypothetical possibility that there might be an attack.’

Anthrax is an infection caused by a bacteria which is relatively easy to produce and distribute.

In 1998, the Pentagon began an anthrax immunisation programme in the military, but it was halted over concerns on the vaccine’s safety.

Personnel currently assigned to bioterrorism activities, including defence, are required to have anthrax vaccinations - as well as those deployed for 15 days or more in the Middle East and South Korea.

The federal government has spent $1.1billion to stockpile the anthrax in case of an attack.

If the NBSB approves the testing, the FDA, National Institutes of Health and other agencies will meet to work out how many children would be studied, at what age and with what dose.

Full article


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