Consumer group slams proposal to test Anthrax vaccine on kids

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"Administering a vaccine for the first time to large numbers of children younger than 18 years of age poses an unknown risk in the midst of the public- health response to a wide-scale anthrax attack," the panel said in a draft report.

The report says the risk of an adverse reaction is much lower than the risk from exposure to anthrax.

Public Citizen said the remote possibility of an attack doesn't justify testing on children. Federal officials have warned that al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups have biological weapons experts who could plan attacks on the U.S., but the only anthrax deaths so far were caused by one of the government's own scientists.

"The proposed research would be unethical," the letter states, "because the research does not present any prospect of direct benefit to the children who would be the subjects of the research, and the vaccine poses significant known risks of potentially serious harm."