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Health Information Center

Anthrax Vaccine

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Anthrax Vaccine

What Does This Vaccine Help Prevent?

This vaccine helps prevent anthrax— a disease caused by bacteria and spores. It can cause a range of flu-like symptoms. Serious forms can harm the brain and lungs. It can be deadly without treatment.

What Is the Anthrax Vaccine?

The anthrax vaccine protects against anthrax. It does not contain cells that cause anthrax.

Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?

The vaccine is for people 18 to 65 years old who:

  • Work with livestock and their products
  • Work with the anthrax bacteria
  • Are in the military

For those at risk, the vaccine is given in 3 doses. It is followed by booster shots. This gives ongoing protection.

What Are the Risks Associated With the Anthrax Vaccine?

The most common side effects are pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site. Some people may have headaches or tiredness.

Rare but serious risks include a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.

Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?

Talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine if you have:

What Other Ways Can Anthrax Be Prevented Besides Vaccination?

To lower the risk of anthrax:

  • Stay away from infected livestock and their products.
  • Do not touch anthrax wounds.
  • Handle suspicious mail and packages carefully.

What Happens in the Event of an Outbreak?

Public health officials will work to find the source of anthrax. Anthrax testing and antibiotics can help prevent infection.

Anthrax has no color, odor, or taste. If you think you came in contact with it, seek medical care right away.



  • Anthrax immune globulin. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/drug-monograph/anthrax-immune-globulin.
  • Anthrax vaccine absorbed. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/drug-monograph/anthrax-vaccine-adsorbed.
  • Anthrax VIS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/anthrax.html.
  • Bower WA, Schiffer J, Atmar RL, et al. Use of anthrax vaccine in the United States: recommendations of the advisory committee on immunization practices, 2019. MMWR Recomm Rep 0019;68(No. RR-4):1–14.
  • Products approved for anthrax. US Food & Drug Administration website. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/bioterrorism-and-drug-preparedness/products-approved-anthrax.


  • David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.