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Anthrax vaccine makeover

New regimen eases some side effects that have hampered acceptance

Less is better for the much-maligned anthrax vaccine, a new study suggests. People getting a slightly different kind of injection had less pain but no diminished protection against the disease, even when they got fewer shots, researchers report in the Oct. 1 Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study reports on the first seven months of a multiyear test of this new technique and dosing. Researchers expect to assess the full results next year. Meanwhile, the findings might raise hopes that the vaccination regimen, routinely given to military personnel as a defense against biological warfare, will help the vaccine gain more widespread acceptance and lessen the fear of side effects.

An independent advisory panel and federal regulators will make the ultimate decision on whether to change the standard vaccine regimen.

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