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What questions should I ask my doctor about the Anthrax vaccine?
NVIC’s If You Vaccinate, Ask 8! Webpage downloadable brochure suggests asking eight questions before you make a vaccination decision for yourself, or for your child. If you review these questions before your appointment, you will be better prepared to ask your doctor questions. Also make sure that the nurse or doctor gives you the relevant Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) for the vaccine or vaccines you are considering well ahead of time to allow you to review it before you or your child gets vaccinated. Copies of VIS for each vaccine are also available on the CDC's website and there is a link to the VIS for vaccines on NVIC's Anthrax “Quick Facts” page.
It is also a good idea to read the vaccine manufacturer product insert that can be obtained from your doctor or public health clinic because federal law requires drug companies marketing vaccines to include certain kinds of vaccine benefit, risk and use information in product information inserts that may not be available in other published information. Anthrax vaccine package inserts are located on NVIC's Anthrax “Quick Facts” page.
Other questions that may be useful to discuss with your doctor before getting the anthrax vaccine are:
- If other vaccines in addition to anthrax vaccine are scheduled for me, am I allowed to modify the schedule so fewer vaccines are given at once?
- What should I do if I become ill after vaccination?
- What other kinds of reaction symptoms should I call to report after anthrax vaccination?
- If the anthrax vaccine doesn’t protect me, do I have any other options for preventing anthrax infection?
- How are vaccine injuries and deaths from anthrax vaccination compensated?
Anthrax vaccine is currently shielded from liability in the U.S. under the 2005 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act. The PREP Act was part of a series of “Bioshield” laws created in response to national security fears after 9/11 and subsequent reported weaponized microbe threats, which prompted Congress to encourage pharmaceutical companies to develop anti-bioterrorism vaccines by, in part, eliminating liability for injuries and deaths caused by those vaccines.
Individuals who die or suffer serious harm due to the administration of covered countermeasures, such as anthrax vaccines, may be eligible to receive compensation through the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP), whether the harm was a result of willful misconduct on the part of the vaccine manufacturer or person administering the vaccine.
Although the PREP Act does provide immunity to the pharmaceutical industry from anthrax vaccine injury lawsuits, vaccine manufacturers are not immune from injunctive relief or enforcement actions by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or other federal agencies.
HHS regulations govern CICP’s procedures and eligibility determinations. In general, eligible individuals (or their survivors) who suffer death or serious physical injury directly caused by the administration of a covered countermeasure may receive reimbursement for reasonable medical expenses, loss of employment income and survivor benefits in the case of death. Serious physical injuries under CICP are generally limited to those that warrant hospitalization or result in a significant loss of function or disability. Congress funds CICP awards through emergency appropriations to the Covered Countermeasure Process Fund.
Remember, if you choose to vaccinate, always keep a written record of exactly which shots/vaccines you or your child have received, including the manufacturer’s name and vaccine lot number. Write down and describe in detail any serious health problems that develop after vaccination and keep vaccination records in a file you can access easily.
It also is important to be able to recognize a vaccine reaction and seek immediate medical attention if the reaction appears serious, as well as know how to make a vaccine reaction report to federal health officials at the Vaccine Adverse Reporting System (VAERS). NVIC’s Report Vaccine Reactions—It’s the Law webpage can help you file a vaccine reaction report yourself to VAERS if your doctor fails or refuses to make a report.
IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC “Quick Facts” is not a substitute for becoming fully informed about anthrax and the anthrax vaccine. NVIC recommends consumers read comprehensive information NVIC provides on anthrax, the vaccine manufacturer product information inserts, and speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child.