DOD implements Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program

WASHINGTON -- Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program, or AVIP, mandates Airmen assigned to high-threat areas receive the Anthrax vaccine, while also providing Airmen the choice to continue anthrax vaccines if they are not assigned to a designated high-threat area. 

The Department of Defense issued a new policy memo Oct. 12 requiring the DOD begin mandatory anthrax vaccinations for individuals in selected high-threat areas or special mission units. 

Headquarters Air Force sent out an implementation message Feb. 16 to major commands, directing them to implement the AVIP, in accordance with current DOD and Air Force guidance, said Lt. Col. Todd Shull, Air Force Counter-Biological Warfare Division chief. 

This implementation is in the initial stages and the Air Force has established a four-week timeframe, upon unit notification, for units to begin giving the Anthrax vaccine to Airmen meeting the mandatory guidelines, he said. 

The mandatory anthrax vaccinations are limited to Airmen who have orders to or are (currently) in specific high-threat areas - primarily the CENTCOM AOR or Korean Peninsula, Colonel Shull said. 

In order to be subject to the mandatory anthrax vaccination you must remain in (these areas) for 15 or more consecutive days, the colonel said. 

The DOD determined that these forward areas pose the highest threat for military forces so they must meet the mandatory anthrax vaccine measures. Additionally, personnel in designated special mission units, regardless of location, are also subject to mandatory Anthrax vaccination. 

"The second key piece of the program is the voluntary aspect of the AVIP," Colonel Shull said. "This involves Airmen who have received at least one anthrax vaccine dose since 1998. Under the new guidelines, they can elect to continue getting the anthrax vaccinations in accordance with the dosing schedule whether or not they are (or will be) assigned to a designated high-threat area." 

Taking the vaccine voluntarily is consistent with good medical practice and personal protection, Colonel Shull said. 

"While we've identified two areas as the most likely locations for an Anthrax threat, we saw in 2001 that anthrax attacks could occur anywhere," he said. "Vaccination offers a layer of protection, in addition to antibiotics and other measures, that is critical for members of the armed forces." 

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

In December 2005, anthrax vaccine was found to be safe and effective against all forms of anthrax, including inhalation anthrax. Over the course of the last 37 years the safety and effectiveness of the anthrax vaccine has been demonstrated. The anthrax vaccine is just as safe as other vaccines we're normally given over the course of our lives, he said.
Installation commanders ensure compliance with the AVIP by maintaining oversight and ownership of the installation's AVIP implementation program. 

"Ultimately, it comes down to the installation commanders to make sure this program works," Colonel Shull said. "They will be responsible to ensure Airmen receive mandatory vaccines when required and voluntarily continue the dosing schedule if they so desire." 

Over the course of implementing this program, the Air Force will provide information and make additional information sources available to all Airmen about Anthrax and the AVIP. This includes a tri-fold hand-out, briefings, and web links. 

Editor's note: Airmen at Seymour Johnson can expect the mandatory anthrax vaccinations to renew this spring, once Air Combat Command officials approve the 4th Fighter Wing operation plan, said Staff Sgt. Tonya O'Toole, 4th Medical Group.
USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.