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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

PACAF leads way in Air Force's anthrax vaccine push

by Maj. Rich Essary
Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs


4/19/2007 - HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii (AFNEWS) -- Pacific Air Forces' implementation of the Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program is off to a good start. 

Since the program was ordered to resume under the direction of the deputy secretary of defense in October, PACAF has immunized more than 94 percent of its Airmen who have been designated for mandatory vaccinations.

The program is well underway, and the Air Force goal was to have more than 90 percent of its designated Airmen immunized no later than April 30.

"This goal was established to ensure our Airmen are protected when they deploy to high threat areas," said Lt. Col. Cynthia Cogburn of the PACAF surgeon general's office.

With the largest number of assigned members in the Air Force subject to mandatory vaccinations, the PACAF surgeon general's office wants to continue to emphasize the importance of the anthrax program throughout the command.

"PACAF is leading the Air Force in implementing this important program and I applaud your efforts," said Maj. Gen. Edward Rice, PACAF vice commander. "The AVIP is a commander's program requiring the oversight and involvement of commanders at all levels."

To help with the program, PACAF has created an AVIP team consisting of representatives from operations, judge advocate, public affairs, and the surgeon general offices. The team will monitor progress and work with the wings, numbered air forces, and air staff to resolve implementation issues, General Rice said.

The mandatory anthrax vaccinations are currently limited to certain Airmen who are designated to deploy to or are in specific high-threat areas -- primarily the Central Command area of responsibility or the Korean peninsula. Designated special mission units, regardless of location, are also subject to mandatory anthrax vaccinations, and voluntary anthrax vaccinations will continue for certain non-mandatory members.

According to Colonel Cogburn, there are six shots in the series. The initial vaccination is followed by a shot at two weeks, four weeks, six months, 12 months and 18 months. Once Airmen complete the series they need an annual booster to remain current.

The anthrax vaccine was first licensed in the United States in 1970. Since then, it has been given to those people -- such as military members, veterinarians, farmers, and woolworkers -- who could get exposed to environmental sources of anthrax.

Over the course of implementing this program, the Air Force will continue to provide information and make additional information sources available to all Airmen on anthrax.

More information about anthrax vaccinations can be obtained at the following links:

- AVIP trifold brochure (PDF): www.anthrax.mil/documents/996AvipTrifold.pdf
- AF/A3SC anthrax website: www.a3a5.hq.af.mil/a3s/a3sc/CCBRN_resource/biological/anthrax/index.asp
- Military Vaccine Agency (MilVax) website: www.vaccines.army.mil/
- MilVax Anthrax website: www.anthrax.mil/
- MilVax AVIP 2007 website: www.anthrax.mil/whatsnew/resumemandatoryselect.asp 



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