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Vaccine Safety Advocates Oppose Pentagon's Return to Mandatory Anthrax Vaccination of U.S. Military Personnel

for immediate release
October 16, 2006

National Vaccine Information Center Provides Military-Biodefense Vaccine Information

Washington, D.C.— Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs William Winkenwerder, M.D. reportedly will announce later today that U.S. soldiers will once again be forced under threat of court martial to be injected with anthrax vaccine without their voluntary, informed consent. The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) is warning that one-size-fits-all mandatory vaccination policies are dangerous for those with genetic and other biological risk factors, making them vulnerable to brain and immune system dysfunction following anthrax vaccination. Today, NVIC is launching the Military and Biodefense Vaccine Project (MBVP) with a website (www.military-biodefensevaccines.org) dedicated to providing the public with information on the research, development, regulation, policymaking, legislation and government promotion of military and biodefense vaccines that may be mandated for mass use in both military and civilian populations.

"America's military service members deserve to be fully informed about the deaths, chronic illness and disabilities that many soldiers have experienced following anthrax vaccination," said MBVP medical director Meryl Nass, M.D. "The FDA-approved anthrax vaccine package insert acknowledges only six deaths and two dozen autoimmune diseases associated with the vaccine, but the FDA has not directed the manufacturer to update the insert in nearly five years. More than 1200 anthrax vaccine-injured soldiers have been treated at the congressionally mandated Vaccine Healthcare Centers, which DOD has attempted to close. They are suffering with crippling, life-altering illnesses that are being swept under the rug. We know the anthrax vaccine is reactive and we suspect it is especially risky for those with hereditary and other risk factors that DOD refuses to investigate or acknowledge."

Since the 1991 Gulf War, healthy young soldiers have reported severe deterioration in health following anthrax vaccination, including chronic joint and muscle pain, weakness, gastrointestinal disorders, disabling fatigue, loss of memory and ability to concentrate, severe headaches, respiratory and heart problems, and autoimmune disorders that leave them unable to work or live a normal life. Some U. S. soldiers risked court martial rather than submit to anthrax vaccination, or re-vaccination after reactions occurred.

The Pentagon's mandatory anthrax vaccine program was halted in October 2004 when Washington, D.C. federal Judge Emmet Sullivan cited the FDA for failing to follow FDA licensing regulations. He issued a permanent injunction directing DOD to stop giving the experimental anthrax vaccine to military personnel without their voluntary, informed consent. In December 2005, the FDA issued a new Final Order declaring the vaccine safe and effective, but failed to provide evidence the vaccine was effective against inhalation (weaponized) anthrax, and failed to address published research studies and 5,000 adverse events reports received by FDA demonstrating that anthrax vaccine is causing serious health problems. The National Vaccine Information Center filed an amicus brief in support of soldiers seeking to stop DOD from forcing anthrax vaccinations without informed consent.

"The National Vaccine Information Center has worked for 25 years to institute informed consent protections in America's mass vaccination system," said NVIC co-founder and president Barbara Loe Fisher. "The right to informed consent to medical risk taking, which involves risk of injury or death, is a human right whether an American citizen is a soldier or a civilian. The DOD has a moral duty to fully disclose anthrax vaccine risks, as well as benefits, to soldiers and allow them to make an informed, voluntary vaccination decision. The launch of the Military and Biodefense Vaccine Project, which expands our website information, will provide necessary information for informed vaccine decision making."

The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) is a non-profit, educational organization founded in 1982 and dedicated to preventing vaccine injuries and deaths through public education and defending the informed consent ethic. NVIC has warned that vaccine injury liability protection given to pharmaceutical companies, and lack of informed consent provisions in Project BioShield, as well as other state and federal disease control legislation enacted since September 11, 2001, endanger civil liberties. For more information, go to www.nvic.org.


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