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Testing anthrax vaccine on children causes outcry

by nickj on October 25, 2011

The National Defense Science board is set to meet Friday to discuss the possibility of testing an anthrax vaccine on children to protect them in the event of a biological attack. The meeting comes after a group of federal advisers suggested the inoculations in September, raising concerns from many who called the proposal unnecessary and dangerous, The Washington Post reports.

The argument for the testing of the vaccines is that in order to collect enough data, scientists would have to wait for biological attack to happen. By starting testing on children now, youngsters would be protected in the event of an attack in the first place.

“At the end of the day, do we want to wait for an attack and give it to millions and millions of children and collect data at that time?" Daniel B. Fagbuyio of the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, told the news source. "Or do we want to say: 'How do we best protect our children?' We can take care of Grandma and Grandpa, Uncle and Auntie. But right now, we have nothing for the children."

The anthrax vaccine has been extensively tested on adults and has been given to more than 2.6 million people in the military. However, its effects on children are unknown and some opponents believe that taking the risk of harming them simply because of the hypothetical threat of bioterrorism is not worth it.

Public skepticism of vaccinations is nothing new, either. In 2008 when H1N1 (better known as swine flu) broke out, some where wary of the inoculation against the strain of the common disease. Additionally, recent debates about protecting children against HPV have taken center stage as the Centers for Disease Control suggest that all girls between 11 and 12 get the receive the treatment.

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