Thomas K. Zink, MD
When it comes to U.S. readiness against the bioterrorism threat of anthrax, our perfect nightmare has come to an end!!
The anthrax threat is real and continuing.
Even so, local emergency services personnel and disaster response volunteers have not been fully informed or properly equipped with the best available protection; namely immunization with the anthrax vaccine.
Local emergency personnel and disaster response volunteers are now being offered protection through U.S. Homeland Security demonstration projects in the St. Louis, Missouri Region and the State of Mississippi!
Until recently, U.S. Government officials overseeing federal preparedness initiatives regarding the anthrax threat have not meaningfully acknowledged the potential of antibiotic-resistant anthrax.
Specifically, the fact that antibiotics and personal protective equipment (PPE) may fail to protect civilian emergency responders and disaster volunteers as they perform their duties has been either "downplayed" or not fully been disclosed.
Moreover, these federal stewards have been unwilling or unable to share already-purchased, stockpiled anthrax vaccine and the protection it bestows. Instead, each year millions of federal, stockpiled doses of the anthrax vaccine have expired, unused.
The inequities in vaccine protection between U.S. war fighters and civilian emergency responders are most glaring in the case of anthrax and smallpox vaccine. However, immunization rates against tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and meningococcal meningitis fall short of the ideal as well.
Project EQUIPP - the grassroots advocacy campaign on behalf of local emergency responders and civilian preparedness volunteers - is happy to report this nightmare is fading away!
Senior Medical Advisor on Biosecurity to the Mayor of St. Louis and Project EQUIPP Founder, Dr. Thomas Zink is pleased to report that St. Louis City Department of Health has been selected by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) to demonstrate how to efficiently vaccinate civilian emergency responders against anthrax. Washington University - St. Louis Department of Emergency Medicine will assist in the effort through its highly-regarded Emergency Care Research Core (ECRC). The endeavor has been named PREPARE (Program to Ready Emergency Personnel for an Anthrax Release Event). The effort will include an educational program on the threat of anthrax as well as provide insights on the efficacy and safety of the anthrax vaccine. And for those emergency personnel and disaster response volunteers who are at risk of exposure to anthrax because of their role in the response to such a biosecurity threat, vaccination will be provided on a voluntary basis and at no cost.
This program (See Announcement Here) will run for 24 months. The U.S. DHS Office of CWMD will monitor progress in order to expand the effort all throughout the nation as key performance milestones are measured and generalized to the entire nation.
All of this follows years of hard work by a number of bipartisan and forward-thinking clinicians in various roles within DHS, Public Health, Academia, and Project EQUIPP.
Our Mission is to equip local, civilian emergency responders and disaster response volunteers with the same vaccine protection as provided to counterparts within the U.S. Departments of Defense, Justice, State, and Homeland Security.
Our Vision is that through, scientific research, evidence-based dialogue, smart policy campaigns, coalition-building, and targeted vaccination initiatives, Project EQUIPP will enhance community resilience by safeguarding those men and women who courageously and selflessly risk their lives every day to protect Main Street, USA.
Our Plan is to fill the gap between federal inertia and local needs. We seek and will find financial support to execute our [already-designed] immunization program against anthrax and the more commonly encountered vaccine preventable diseases such as tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis, and flu. We will work with our creative and experienced group of advisors, stakeholders, and partners to obtain and administer the needed vaccines to protect those who protect us.
Please join us in our quest to be sure the FRVI actually comes to fruition so that emergency responders and others that volunteer in disaster response are given full disclosure regarding the risk they face and are offered vaccine protection against anthrax and all vaccine-preventable diseases before they are exposed rather than as a countermeasure afterwards.
Thank you for your interest, support, and kind consideration - TZ