News of the Day ... in Perspective12/23/2003
Defense Department enjoined from administering anthrax vaccine without consent
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that the Pentagon must stop forcing servicemen to take the anthrax vaccine against their wills, unless President Bush signs a special order waiving the informed consent requirement that applies to experimental drugs. www.cnn.com
Judge Sullivan found that the vaccine is “an investigational drug and a drug being used for an unapproved purpose.” The vaccine was never licensed for use against inhalational anthrax and has never been proved effective for this route of exposure.
Nearly 200 servicemen have been punished for refusing the shots since the mandatory vaccines started in 1998. Between 500 and 1,000 experienced pilots and flight crew members have resigned from the Air National Guard or Reserves to avoid the vaccine.
The anthrax vaccine falls under a 1998 law passed because of concerns that experimental drugs may have been responsible for the Gulf War Syndrome.