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for immediate release

December 8, 2003


Washington, D.C. - Americans for Vaccine Safety and Accountability, headed by the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), are joining with other parent, veteran and health care organizations in support of a proposed Senate resolution asking Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to review the safety of the military's mandatory anthrax and smallpox vaccination programs. The resolution is being sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) in response to mounting reports of serious health problems, including un-expected deaths, after soldiers are vaccinated.

"Tragically, national one-size-fits-all vaccine policies are hurting young soldiers in the military just as they are hurting young children in civilian life," said NVIC president Barbara Loe Fisher. "Many are dying or being left chronically ill after receiving multiple vaccines on one day. Nobody is being screened for genetic or biological risk factors be-cause public health agencies and industry have refused to do the scientific studies to identify those vulnerable. Some vaccines, like anthrax and smallpox, are known to be crude and highly reactive. Soldiers are being needlessly sacrificed for a flawed policy and it is inhumane when so much more could be done to prevent this waste of human life."

On Nov. 19, the Pentagon admitted that Rachael Lacy, a 22 year old Army recruit died last April after being injected with five vaccines, including anthrax and smallpox. Military doctors are now saying she may have had a predisposition to a fatal autoimmune condition (lupus) that was triggered by the vaccinations.

Meryl Nass, M.D., a civilian doctor who questions the safety of the anthrax vaccine and has treated many vaccine-damaged soldiers, reviewed Lacy's autopsy report and death certificate and urged the military in September to classify her death as vaccine-related. "The autopsy made it clear and now the military has confirmed that there is no other explanation for her death except the vaccines she received. There was no evidence of lupus on autopsy, although she may have had a genetic predisposition to auto-immunity that would put her at high risk for reacting to vaccines. Ten to 20 percent of the population has genetic predisposition to autoimmunity so everyone should have the right to informed consent to vaccination.," said Nass, who is also a member of NVIC's Medical Advisory Board.

Lacy's death follows persistent reports of other deaths, mysterious pneumonia-like illnesses, heart problems, blood clots, memory loss, disabling fatigue, muscle weakness and pain, weight loss and other serious health problems suffered by young, healthy military recruits after being vaccinated with anthrax, smallpox and many other vaccines.

The Bingaman resolution introduced in the Senate on November 25, cites a General Accounting Office (GAO) report that found that an "estimated 84 percent of the personnel who had had anthrax vaccine shots between September 1998 and September 2000 reported having side effects or reactions. This rate is more than double the level cited in the vaccine product insert." The resolution also points out that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stated in June 2003 that 1 in 500 civilians vaccinated for smallpox had a serious vaccine event.

Bingaman maintains that a biological attack against U.S. troops is far less likely now so the risks of the military's compulsory anthrax and smallpox vaccination programs are greater than its benefits. He points out that British and Australian troops have not been required to take anthrax vaccine and that other allied nations have declined to use the vaccine on their troops.

Currently, six military servicemembers are seeking a preliminary injunction in a U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. that would prevent the forced vaccination of U.S. military personnel with the anthrax vaccine and allow soldiers to give their voluntary, in-formed consent. Attorneys for the plaintiffs argue that the anthrax vaccine was never licensed by the FDA to protect against inhalation anthrax, which is how anthrax would be used as a biological weapon. Federal statute requires that either informed consent be given whenever a drug or vaccine is used for an unlicensed purpose, or that the President assumes responsibility by waiving servicemembers' right of informed consent.

A U.S. soldier's refusal to be vaccinated can result in a court martial, imprisonment, fines and dishonorable discharge from the military. One decorated Air Force physician was court martialed for refusing the anthrax vaccine and fined $21,000. A breast-feeding soldier was court martialed for refusing the anthrax vaccine because she did not want to take the risk of harming her child. A 2002 GAO report found that 69 percent of experienced pilots and aircrew members in the National Guard and the Reserve re-ported that the anthrax shot was the major influence in their decision to change their military status in 2000, including leaving the military entirely.

The Bingaman resolution calls on the Secretary of Defense and Board for Correction of Military Records "to reconsider adverse actions already taken or intended to be taken against servicemembers for refusing to accept the anthrax or smallpox vaccine." The resolution also calls on the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to "assess those adverse events being reported" and research causal relationships as well as estimate the future cost to treat the resulting health problems.

"The use of prophylactic biodefense drugs and vaccines must be solely threat-based and weighed against the health risks to the servicemember. Congress should direct DOD to fully disclose all unpublished medical studies, non-peer reviewed studies and experimental test data on their biodefense drugs and vaccines. These data should be made available to the DVA, the Institute of Medicine and independent researchers for a thorough review of DOD's findings," said Steve Robinson, Executive Director, National Gulf War Resource Center.

Reports of sudden death and chronic illness following receipt of multiple vaccines in the military first began to surface in the early 1990's, when soldiers deploying for the Gulf War were given up to 17 vaccines, including anthrax, as well as investigational drugs. The constellation of symptoms those soldiers experienced, which came to be known as "Gulf War Illness," are very similar to the symptoms being experienced by military recruits today who get vaccinated with multiple vaccines, including anthrax and smallpox.

Americans for Vaccine Safety and Accountability (AVSA), a coalition which includes the National Vaccine Information Center, Parents Requesting Open Vaccine Education, Unlocking Autism, New Hampshire Citizens for Health Freedom, Virginia Families for Vaccine Information and Choice, Vaccine Awareness of North Florida, Massachusetts Citizens for Vaccination Choice, Missouri Citizen's Coalition for Vaccination Choice, Illinois Vaccine Awareness Coalition, World Chiropractic Alliance, International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, Osteomed II, New Hampshire Vaccine Safety Initiative and Mothering Magazine is supporting the Bingaman resolution along with other organizations advocating safer vaccines and informed consent protections in national vaccine policies, including the National Gulf War Resource Center, Military Vaccine Education Center, New Jersey Alliance for Informed Choice in Vaccination, Michigan Opposing Mandatory Shots, Connecticut Vaccine Information Alliance, Kansas Alliance for In-formed Choice in Vaccination, Wyoming Vaccine Information Network, Minnesota Vaccine Awareness, Parents Advocating Vaccine Education and The Autism Autoimmunity Project.

NVIC was founded in 1982 and is the largest and oldest parent-led non-profit organization advocating the institution of vaccine safety and informed consent protections in national vaccination programs. AVSA is an activist coalition of organizations representing more than 200,000 Americans.

For more information and to read the entire resolution being sponsored by Sen. Bingaman, go to www.nvic.org/AVSA/Bingaman.htm

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