Editorial: Effective vaccine needed

With $126 million spent, the United States is no closer to finding an effective anthrax vaccine than it was 10 years ago when it began research and development. Recent scares and worries about anthrax’s potential use as a biological weapon have many people scrambling to find vaccinations that do not exist.

The country’s medical teams should continue calming people by reiterating that the rumor of the current anthrax cases are rare but not indications of biological warfare. They should also seriously work to develop an effective and safe anthrax vaccine should such attacks come to fruition.

Anthrax, the bacteria that killed at least one Floridian in the past week, can be found in a spore stage (its dormant stage) and can become deadly after being inhaled. The bacteria causes hemorrhaging and tissue decay.

Cases are rare, but it is a worry, however, that the bacteria is a prime choice for possible bioterrorist attacks because it incubates, multiplies and kills so quickly.

An anthrax vaccine was distributed in 1991 to military stationed in the Persian Gulf, but many people reported devastating side effects, so its use was discontinued. Part of the problem in its development was only one company has been authorized to manufacture the anthrax vaccine. Other companies did not express interest in the bacteria that, until recently, was not in demand and had little potential to be.

The government should authorize more companies to make anthrax vaccines that do not cause harsh side effects.

As people begin to worry and war continues, more people will seek such a vaccine to ensure they are safe should a bio-attack begin. It would be irresponsible of us to be so underprepared in the face of a potential national health crisis that could easily be avoided with the proper vaccines.