Anthrax Vaccines in the 21st Century

Vaccination against Bacillus anthracis is the best preventive measure against the development of deadly anthrax disease in the event of exposure to anthrax either as a bioweapon or in its naturally occurring form. Anthrax vaccines, however, have historically been plagued with controversy, particularly related to their safety. Fortunately, recent improvements in anthrax vaccines have been shown to confer protection with reduced short-term safety concerns, although questions about long-term safety remain. Here, we (a) review recent and ongoing advances in anthrax vaccine development, (b) emphasize the need for thorough characterization of current (and future) vaccines, (c) bring to focus the importance of host immunogenetics as the ultimate determinant of successful antibody production and protection, and (d) discuss the need for the systematic, active, and targeted monitoring of vaccine recipients for possible Chronic Multisymptom Illness (CMI).