The Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee voted unanimously to approve the First Responder Anthrax Preparedness Act Wednesday, a bill introduced by U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) in August 2015.

Kelly Ayotte/United States Senate
Kelly Ayotte/United States Senate

The bill would establish a pilot program to make available to first responders on a voluntary basis short shelf life anthrax vaccines from the Strategic National Stockpile.

“The Strategic National Stockpile serves as an important reserve of medicine and medical supplies to be deployed in the event of a major public health emergency, such as a terrorist attack against our nation. Unfortunately, an estimated 4 million doses of short shelf life anthrax vaccines expire unused each year and are thrown away, when they could instead be used to better protect our first responders and help prepare them to respond to possible anthrax attacks,” said Senator Ayotte.

A companion bill to the First Responder Anthrax Preparedness Act passed the House unanimously in July. The legislation has been endorsed by the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Emergency Medical Services Chiefs, and the Alliance for Biosecurity.