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Anthrax vaccine tests on kids contemplated

WASHINGTON -- Should the anthrax vaccine be tested in children? It'll be a while longer before the government decides.

An advisory board said Friday that ethical issues need to be resolved -- but if that can be accomplished, the vaccine can be tested in children to be sure it's safe and to learn the proper dose in case it's needed in a terrorist attack.

Because of concerns that terrorists might use the potentially deadly bacteria, the government has stockpiled the vaccine. It has been widely tested on adults but never on children.

The question is whether to do tests so doctors will know whether children's immune systems respond to the shots well enough to signal protection. The children would not be exposed to anthrax.

Millions of doses of antibiotics have been stockpiled since the attacks-by-mail in 2001, and two experimental toxin-clearing treatments also are being stored.

-- AP