Introduction of Anthrax Vaccine Side Effects

Anthrax vaccine is not recommended for all people now. It is only for military personnel, lab personnel, environmental workers, and handlers of animal or animal products who are the highest risk for anthrax spore exposure.  Anthrax vaccine side effects sometime become a debate. Is it really bad or not.  Many people report that they have bad anthrax vaccine side effects such as arthritis, diabetes, gulf war, joint pain, memory loss, multiple sclerosis and so on. Is that really true?

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What is Anthrax?Anthrax

First of all, we have to know what anthrax is. So anthrax is a  disease caused by bacteria called Bacillus anthracis. The bacteria usually live in the soil for several time. Animal like cattle, sheeps, goats, horse, and other herbivores eat the bacteria accidentally. It is because the bacteria live in the soil where the grass grow.

How Anthrax Infects Human?

People get anthrax when they have contact with infected animals. People with anthrax high risk are likely people who work in slaughterhouses, millitary, herbivores handlers, and environmental workers.

How Anthrax Infects Human

People usually have contact with certain herbivores.

Most of the anthrax cases occur when bacteria enter the skin through cut or skin abrasion. This is usually occur in people who are handling contaminated meat, wool, leather, or hair product of infected animals.

After the exposure (about a week), the anthrax symptoms begin. The disease begins as a small red area on the skin and progresses to a blackened, painless ulcer.

Anthrax Risk

  • Easily spread via biological warfare
  • Antibiotics don’t always work
  • Disease can be fatal

Anthrax Sign And Symptoms

After 7 days of bacteria exposure, the skin have a lession with blackened and painless ulcer. Soon lymph glands begin to swell and you may have fever, fatigue, and headache.

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In some case, the symtoms include difficulty breathing, and even death.

The prognosis will decrease if you take antibiotic as soon as possible.

Anthrax Vaccine Production

It is a big question for some people. How is the anthrax vaccine made? Is it dangerous or what? Those are common questions about anthrax vaccine.

Anthrax vaccine is made by taking a strain of bacterium called Bacillus anthracis. That bacteria grow in the laboratory. Normally, bacteria will release toxins into surrounding broth. This toxin is the main cause of anthrax disease. If you are infected by this kind of bacteria, the toxin will fill your blood.

The toxin are then inactivated with a substance called formaldehyde so that the toxin cannot loger cause anthrax disease. That is how the anthrax vaccine made. It is similar to the “acellular” pertusis vaccine.

Anthrax vaccine is made by taking a strain of bacterium called Bacillus anthracis

Does the Anthrax Vaccine Really Work Fine?

Generally, all of vaccine provide protection to our body, including anthrax vaccine. People with anthrax vaccine will develop high level of antibody against anthrax toxin inside the blood.

Is there any Evidances the anthrax vaccine work fine?

In a study, published in 1962 was really interesting. In this study, mill workers at high risk of getting anthrax infection were given either vaccine or no vaccine. Then, the effectiveness of anthrax vaccine was about 92%.

Anthrax vaccine is so effective against inhalational anthrax (a type of anthrax expected in a bioterrorist attack). Inhalational anthrax occurs when large number of anthrax spore are released in the air in droplet form.

The effectiveness of anthrax vaccine was about 92%

Immunization with BioThrax consists of a series of 5 intramuscular doses administered at 0 and 4 weeks and 6, 12 and 18 months. Select a different injection site for each sequential injection of this vaccine. Individuals should not be considered protected until they have received the full series of vaccinations.

Anthrax Medical Treatment

Do antibiotics can treat anthrax disease? Yes. Antibiotic such as penicillin, doxycycline and ciprofloxacin can treat and clean the anthrax bacteria.

Those antibiotics are effective against anthrax bacteria.

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If antibiotics can treat anthrax, why do military personel and other risky people need a vaccine?

  • Antibiotic is a medicine that can clean up the anthrax bacteria, not the spores.
  • Antibiotic only work against bacteria, not the spores.

In the event of a bioterrorist attack, the spore would be released into the air and inhaled by humans.  So the antibiotic is only for bacteria not for spores. It can prevent the development of the anthrax disease.

Anthrax vaccine for risky situations

Anthrax vaccine for risky situations

If you take the antibiotic for several days, the spore can reawaken. The reawaken of spore is usually because you stopped the antibiotics taking. We don’t know how long the antibiotic can treat anthrax.

In addision, not all people with anthrax who are treated with antibiotic survive. So based on the case above, vaccine is the only way to prevent anthrax disease. Like much people say “Prevention is better than treatment.”

Anthrax Vaccine Side Effects

Every one of every five people who receive anthrax vaccine will develop anthrax vaccine side effects such as:

Common Anthrax Side Effects;

  • Mild pain
  • Redness and swelling at the vaccine injection site
  • Severe pain and swelling
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Nausea and vomit
  • Allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) including difficulty breathing, hives, or lowered blood pressure.


Another anthrax vaccine side effect is arthritis. Common anthrax vaccine side effects involve myalgia, arhralgia which is like joint pain or muscle pain. Rheumatoid arthritis is a rare case that had been reported.

A 42 years old man reported arthritis side effect on his knee. His knee become swollen, stiffness, and painful 5 day after receiving the first dose of anthrax vaccine. At first, he experienced side effects such as fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and neck, hand, and shoulder pain after receiving dose 3 of anthrax vaccine.

Thus, this anthrax vaccine side effect is a rare case that represents a fifth patient with reumatoid arthritis related to anthrax vaccine.

Anthrax Vaccine and PregnancyAnthrax Vaccine and Pregnancy

Pregnancy women who want to receive anthrax vaccine have higher risk of birth defects. Anthrax actually has been assigned to pregnancy category D by the FDA. Pregnant women should not be vaccinated against anthrax unless the potential benefit outweighs risk.

Anthrax vaccine for Bre*s* feeding women?

There are no acurate data on the excretion of anthrax vaccine into br**t milk. Administration of non-live vaccines is not contraindicated during breasfeeding.

DiabetesAnthrax vaccine side effects are diabetes

Is that really true that anthrax vaccine can cause type 1 diabetes? According to Elsevier Ltd, they did not find an increase risk of type 1 diabetes and any of the study vaccines.

They recommended to follow-up the studies using medical record review to confirm it.

Anthrax vaccine cause fertility?Anthrax Vaccine Side Effects toward Fertility

According to NCBI, anthrax vaccine does not affect reproduction system. They found that exposure to the anthrax vaccine both male or female did not negatively impact the quality of reproduction system, fertilization rate, embyo quality, or clincial pregnancy rates.

Gulf War Syndrome

Is that true that anthrax vaccine cause Gulf War Syndrome? The anthrax side effect included muscle or joint pain, fatigue, and headache. Those kind of side effets significantly associated with deployment of military personel to the Gulf War Syndrome.

Others thinks that anthrax vaccine cause Gulf War Syndrome (GWS). To ensure whether anthrax vaccine caused Gulf War Syndrome, a study was performed.

That study was taken blood from anthrax-vaccined people who complained Gulf War Syndroms and compare it with those who did not. The result was really interesting, the percentage of people who had antibodies to anthrax was not different between the second groups.

In summary, based on that study the anthrax vaccine DID NOT cause Gulf War Syndrome (GWS).

Anthrax Vaccine In Military

Anthrax Vaccine Side Effects in Military Personnels

Anthrax Vaccine Side Effects in Military Personnels

Anthrax is like a biology weapon in war. Anthrax backteria can attacks against military personnel, not only in United States, but also other countries.

Antharx is frightening againt in biological warfare. It can be so easily sprayed over large area of confilct. Once it is inhaled or untreated with antibiotic, anthrax disease can cause fatal infection in military personnel.Only few of military personel with anthrax who are treated with antibiotics survive. The antibiotic  treatment is also unclear. The anthrax disease can still there for weeks, months, or years.

Anthrax side effects in millitary personel have side effects such as above paragraph. The side effects in children are including fever, occasional pain, redness around the injection site, tenderness, chills, body aches, and nausea or vomit.

Memory LossAnthrax Vaccine Side Effects ; Memory loss

There is no evidance that anthrax vaccine cause memory loss. A serious deterioration in mental, physical or emotional health following vaccination should be reported soon. If you have certain anthrax vaccine side effects such as extreme pain and swelling, etc including memory loss, inability to concentrate or depression, you must report it to your doctor.

Then the doctor will report what happened to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). If the doctor will not report it, the National Vaccine Information Center will help you report. You may also call 1-800-822-7962 for Advance Adverse Event Reporting.

Long term Antharx Vaccine Side Effects

No evidence supports an association between the receipt of anthrax vaccine and long term side effects of anthrax vaccine.  Don’t worry of the side effects because the benefits of anthrax vaccine outweight the risk.

It is recommended for high risk people to take anthrax vaccine;

  • Military personnels
  • Labolatory workers
  • Animal handlers

No evidence supports an association between the receipt of anthrax vaccine and long-term side effects. Therefore, for military personnel and others at high risk of exposure to anthrax spores, the benefits of the anthrax vaccine outweigh the risks.

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How long do anthrax vaccine side effects last?

Anthrax vaccine is a series of 5 intramuscular doses administreted at 0 – 4 weeks, and 6, 12, and 18 months. It is become a big question whether anthrax vaccine side effect present or not.

Anthrax vaccine side effects usually still exist for a couple of days or weeks after the injection. The side effect such as like reaction on the arm where the shot was given such as tenderness, redness, itching, lump, bruise, muscle pain, headache, or fatigue can last for couple days or weeks.

Home remedies can decrease the bad side effects.

If you experience prolong anhtrax vaccine anahylaxis, you need to contact your doctor to get medication for bad side effects.

Anthrax Side Effect TreatmentAnthrax vaccine side effects treatment

What if the side effects of anthrax vaccine is unbearable for certain patient. Anthrax vaccine usually interact with other vaccines, steroids, medicine to treat or prevent organ transplant rejection, or medications to treat psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other autoimmune disorder. Mild side effects of anthrax vaccine such as swelling, redness, and pain around the injection site can treat well with warm compress or analgetic cream.

It is quite different for severe anthrax vaccine side effects. Anthrax vaccine can cause severe allergy (anaphylaxis). This anaphylaxis can only treat with an emergency medication (Epipen anaphylaxis –autoinjector ephineprine). This procedure must do immediately after the patient or you recognize the sign and symptoms of anaphylaxis. Call 911 for better treatment.

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Anthrax Vaccine Side Effects According to CDC

According to CDC on its post here, anthrax is a serious disease that can be easily prevented by anthrax vaccine. Similar with other vaccine, anthrax vaccine can cause serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). The risk of getting anaphylaxis from the vaccine is extremely small.

So CDC told the anthrax vaccine side effects in his website as follow;

Mild Side Effects

  • Reaction on the arm where the shot was given such as tenderness, redness, itching, lump, and bruise.
  • Muslce pain or temporary limitation of arm movement
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

Severe Side Effects

  • Seious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) is very rare.

What if there is a serious allergic reaction?

First of all, you have to look for the allergic reaction sign and symptoms well. The sign and symptoms can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, fast or irregular heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. Those sign and symptoms usually start a few minutes after the anthrax vaccination.

What should I do?

First thing after you got the sign and symptoms of severe allergy, you must call 911 for medical help.