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Deployed Service Members Receive Vital Anthrax Vaccine

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070409-06
Release Date: 4/9/2007 3:39:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman (AW) Emily Stroia, USS Nimitz Public Affairs

USS Nimitz, At Sea (NNS) -- The crew of USS Nimitz (CVN 68) received mandatory anthrax vaccinations April 5 through 10 to reduce risks of contracting the disease while deployed to the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility (AOR).

“The vaccine is administered to prevent the toxins of anthrax from affecting the body and becoming deadly,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Nick Carlson, Nimitz’s Preventive Medicine technician.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, anthrax is a serious disease that can affect both humans and animals. It is caused by a bacteria called bacillus anthracis and can be inhaled, ingested or absorbed by contact with the skin.

“Anthrax can easily be reproduced and weaponized,” said Cmdr. Michael McGinnis, Nimitz’s senior medical officer. “It is odorless, colorless and is in spore-form.”

The Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program (AVIP) states anthrax is highly lethal, hard to detect and can cause widespread illness or death among unprotected people. According to AVIP, the anthrax vaccine is 92.5 percent effective in preventing all forms of anthrax. The vaccine meets all current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards of production.

“A person may not know until the very end that they have anthrax,” said McGinnis. "They may show symptoms of cough, fever, fatigue and body aches."

Because of its deadliness, inhalation of anthrax is one type of anthrax potential enemies have the capability to use against our troops, according to U.S. intelligence sources.

“I will feel a lot safer knowing that I have the vaccine because we are going into a war zone where we are at a higher risk of exposure to anthrax,” said Yeoman Seaman Adrian Garza, command master chief yeoman.

The vaccine has been licensed by the FDA since 1970 and has more than 5.8 million doses have been administered to approximately 1.4 million personnel since March 1998. Anthrax vaccinations are mandatory for personnel deployed to CENTCOM AOR or the Republic of Korea for 15 or more consecutive days.

Commanded by Capt. Michael Manazir, Nimitz is the flagship for Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11, and is homeported in San Diego. The Nimitz CSG is currently deployed in support of operations in CENTCOM AOR.

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