To the Editor:
With all the ongoing debate about whether, when or which Americans should receive smallpox vaccine, I wonder why no one seems to be discussing the anthrax vaccine (Editorial, "Smallpox Scenarios," July 10). Has it been forgotten that, only nine months ago, we had an actual (thankfully small) anthrax assault right here?
I agree we should be well-prepared for any realistic eventuality. So where is the discussion about mass anthrax vaccination? As opposed to smallpox vaccination, which has some risk, anthrax vaccine has been shown to be relatively safe and effective. There is at least one American-based anthrax vaccine production facility which could, and should, be put to use manufacturing this vaccine in sufficient quantities to protect us against further anthrax attacks.
The risk of a smallpox attack is unknown, but small. The risk of another anthrax attack is at least as large. We should be prepared.
Gilbert Ross M.D.
Medical Director, the American Council on Science and Health