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 Anthrax Vaccine

Can the vaccine be taken by women who may be pregnant?

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Anthrax vaccine should not be given to women who are pregnant or who think they may be pregnant. Vaccinations are routinely deferred until after then pregnancy, unless immunity is needed during pregnancy. Tetanus, meningococcal, hepatitis B, and influenza vaccines, for example, are specifically recommended for susceptible women during their pregnancy. As with other vaccines in the U.S., specific studies on possible reproductive side effects from use of anthrax vaccine have not been performed. However, there have been no evidence of infertility, miscarriages, or other reproductive problems with the use of inactivated vaccines.

Because the anthrax vaccine is a sterile, cell-free (filtered) bacterial vaccine, it is non-infectious and is not expected to cause any harm to the fetus. If the anthrax vaccine is inadvertently given to a pregnant woman, no adverse pregnancy outcome or fetal harm is expected. If a pregnant woman is known to have been exposed to anthrax, she will be given the vaccine as a potential life-saving measure.

Women who believe that they may be pregnant should inform their health-care provider before vaccination. Once pregnancy is confirmed, anthrax vaccinations will be deferred until the woman is no longer pregnant. Once a woman is no longer pregnant, deferred anthrax vaccination will resume. A woman can safely become pregnant any time after vaccination that she wishes.

Reference: Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. General recommendations on immunization. Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) 1994; volume 43 (No. RR-1): pages 20-21;

Preliminary Evaluation of the Association of Anthrax Vaccination and Congenital Anomalies
MMWR Weekly February 15, 2002/51(06);127
Preliminary evaluation of the potential association between the use of anthrax vaccine in the first trimester of pregnancy and the diagnosis of congenital anomalies in children. Review of preliminary data indicated important limitations in computerized medical records that preclude drawing conclusions from this preliminary study ... vaccine has not been suspected to be a hazard to reproductive health, no studies of animals or pregnant women have been conducted, and the vaccine is neither recommended nor licensed for use in pregnancy. DoD continues to maintain a policy of avoiding anthrax vaccination of pregnant women ...

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02/May/2002 dc