Panel: Thumbs down on anthrax vaccine test in kids

WASHINGTON — Don’t look for testing of the anthrax vaccine to begin in children any time soon.

Controversy arose last year as experts debated whether such studies should be done to learn how to treat children in case of a bioterror attack.

But a presidential commission says the government would have to take multiple steps — including more safety research in young adults — before it would be ethical to consider tests in children.

“The safety of our children is paramount, and we have to get this precisely right,” said Dr. Amy Gutmann, who chairs the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, which released its report Tuesday.

More than a decade after the anthrax attacks, the government has a multibillion-dollar stockpile of drugs and vaccines to fight an array of threats. There’s no information on whether those so-called countermeasures would work in children like they’re expected to help their parents, or even what dose to use. Yet if a large attack were to occur, children undoubtedly would receive those untested products.

Worried about how to handle an emergency, a government advisory group recommended studying the anthrax vaccine in children if independent ethics experts agreed it could be done appropriately. The Obama administration put that question to the panel.

Tuesday’s answer: Children don’t gain any benefit from pre-attack research with the anthrax vaccine or other countermeasures. So the panel said such studies would be ethical only if they presented no more than minimal risk to participants — like the risk from a routine medical check-up. Determining that would require, among other things, more testing in adults, the panel added. Something that proved safe in 18-year-olds, for example, might be a candidate to study next in 16- and 17-year-olds.

However, the government should plan now for how it would study children who receive those treatments in the event of an attack, the panel said.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which requested the advice, said it would review the findings.

More in Local News

Live in Edmonds? Hate speeders?

Edmonds has $35,000 to address local residents’ concerns about speeding in their… Continue reading

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s top images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Police looking for Lynnwood bank robber

The robber did not flash a weapon to the teller at a U.S. Bank.

Employee threats caused lockdown at Arlington elementary

Arlington Police said all students and staff were.

Sirens! Flashing lights! — Move over!

We are a confident bunch on what to do when we hear… Continue reading

Marysville quits fire-department merger talks

Mayor Jon Nehring notified Arlington of the decision in a letter dated Jan. 10.

Everett marchers: ‘There’s too much to protest’ for one sign

About 150 people joined the “March to Impeach” from the waterfront to a county courthouse rally.

Jayme Biendl, 34, was a correctional officer at the Monroe Correctional Complex in Monroe.
State lawmakers hear testimony on a death-penalty repeal

The voter-approved law has been on the books since 1981. The governor has been issuing reprieves.

Food stuffs for a local chapter of A Simple Gesture at Fitness Evolution, the communal pick-up point, in Arlington on Jan. 12. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
There’s an easier way to donate to food banks

Grab a green bag, fill it gradually with grocery items — and someone will pick it up from your home.

Most Read