Antibiotics and vaccines present their own unique issues. For instance, for some infectious agents like anthrax, antibiotics are only effective when taken before symptoms occur. Antibiotics can also cause side effects and should only be taken with medical supervision. Finally, taking antibiotics that are not medically indicated before a bioterrorism event occurs can limit their effectiveness should a bio-terrorism act ever take place.
The anthrax vaccine is only available to military personnel and many public health experts question its effectiveness. Moreover, six to seven doses over a period of about a year are required for maximal effectiveness to be achieved. A supply of smallpox vaccine is stored centrally, and the vaccine is not generally available to the public. Routine administration of the vaccine up to its discontinuation in the 1970s was associated with vaccine-caused deaths and illness.