Soldiers from every other country that used anthrax vaccine have had medical problems, although information is limited
Meryl Nass, MD
May 26, 2007
Dozens of Israeli soldiers who volunteered to take part in classified anthrax vaccine experiments years ago are reportedly still ill as a result, according to Israeli media. Here’s the article:
British authorities have claimed that 50% of troops accepted the vaccine voluntarily.1 But in one study of voluntary vaccinations, only 21% of the soldiers offered vaccinations completed the four dose series.2 The authors concluded, “Although the old vaccine is considered safe, the number of adverse reactions and incapacity reported by a military medical unit was unexpected.” Another study at five Royal Air Force bases found that only 4 to 22 per cent of those volunteering for anthrax vaccinations chose to complete all four doses.3
A study of veterans and Gulf War illness symptoms found that soldiers who received anthrax vaccine for the Gulf War were 1.5 times as likely to report chronic Gulf War illness as those who did not, and that those who received anthrax vaccine for the Bosnia deployment were over 3 times as likely to report a similar chronic illness.4
Some British troops believe anthrax vaccine contributed to birth defects in offspring:
“Anthrax vaccine inquiry soldiers demand
02 Mar 2004 – 0:00 PDT
UK soldiers have asked for an inquiry into anthrax vaccines after several babies were born with defects.
Spokesman for the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association Charles Plumridge said he had received a number of calls ‘from mothers and husbands whose wives are now pregnant and are worried their babies may be born with some form of defect’.
The association has written to British Prime Minister Tony Blair demanding a public inquiry into vaccinations given to soldiers before the US-led war in Iraq was launched last March.
According to the group, since the war, pregnant women treated at the 33rd Military Field Hospital in Gosport, southern England, have suffered two miscarriages, three premature births, one still birth and a forced termination because a foetus was not developing properly.
In each of the seven cases, at least one of the parents received a vaccination against anthrax.
In some of the cases, babies suffered limb defects or skin problems, according to the association.
A spokeswoman for Britain’s Ministry of Defence said the anthrax vaccinations were voluntary.
‘Congenital disabilities are unfortunately common, affecting about one in 33 live births’, said the spokeswoman.
She added that a number of studies had shown a high rate of congenital disabilities in children of veterans of the 1991 Gulf War, but that these studies were not connected to vaccination programs.”
Canada’s Department of National Defense hired contractor Goss-Gilroy Inc. to study risk factors and Gulf War Illnesses.5 The 1998 study found that soldiers who had received anthrax and / or plague vaccinations during the first Gulf War deployment were 1.92 times as likely to suffer from chronic fatigue as those who did not receive these biological warfare vaccines.
In 2000, a decision by military judge Guy Brais ended Canada’s mandatory anthrax vaccination program. His ruling stated,
“It was sufficient and the court is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the defense has successfully demonstrated that the anthrax vaccine contained in lot 020 was unsafe and hazardous and could be responsible for the important symptoms reported by so many persons who received that vaccine…
In those circumstances, the court concludes that the accused’s right to life, liberty and security of the person in section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms were infringed. And as the court stated earlier, the government, through its Department of National Defense and the Canadian Forces, could never be justified to impose inoculation of soldiers with an unsafe and dangerous vaccine as a limit of their rights under section 7.” 6
Since the Afghanistan war began in 2002, Canadian troops have not even been offered voluntary anthrax vaccinations: 7
March 5, 2007
No anthrax vaccine for Afghanistan troops: DND
By DENE MOORE
MONTREAL (CP) – Canadian military officials say they’re not considering a mandatory anthrax vaccination campaign even though the U.S. military has made the controversial inoculation mandatory for its soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
As of April 30, all U.S. soldiers heading to Afghanistan will have to be immunized against anthrax.
The U.S. Department of Defence has announced that all branches of its military will have to inoculate service members heading to high threat areas, including Iraq, Afghanistan and the Korean Peninsula.
But Gloria Kelly, spokeswoman for the Canadian Forces health services group, said Monday that the Department of National Defence is not considering the same.
“At this point in time, we are not requiring our people to have anthrax vaccinations nor are we considering it,” Kelly said from Ottawa.
Both the Canadian and U.S. militaries ceased mandatory anthrax immunizations after questions arose about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
The U.S. army continued to offer a voluntary vaccination but only about half of U.S. soldiers signed on.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has since declared the anthrax vaccine safe and effective, opening the door to the mandatory program south of the border.
“The anthrax vaccine will protect our troops from another threat – a disease that will kill, caused by a bacteria that already has been used as a weapon in America, and that terrorists openly discuss,” Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defence for health affairs, said in a U.S. defence department statement announcing the program.
“The threat environment and the unpredictable nature of terrorism make it necessary to include biological warfare defence as part of our force protection measures.”
In little more than six weeks, all U.S. soldiers heading to Afghanistan will have to be immunized against anthrax, a bacterial infection that commonly occurs in domesticated animals.
Anthrax has not been used in combat but five people died and 17 were sickened when anthrax spores were sent through the U.S. mail in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Dr. Ron Wojtyk, of Canadian Forces health services, said the threat of anthrax exposure in Afghanistan is not sufficient enough to make the vaccine mandatory.
Wojtyk said the U.S. is deployed in areas where the threat is more pressing, such as Iraq.
“If we deploy to an area where there is a threat of anthrax or possible release on a bioterrorist type of scenario, then there would be an order for anthrax and it would be mandatory,” Wojtyk said Monday.
Canada has about 2,500 troops in southern Afghanistan as part of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.
During the 1991 Gulf War western troops were immunized against anthrax.
The Canadian military received special permission from Health Canada to use the vaccine developed for the U.S. Department of Defence, although it was not approved for use by the general public.
Despite concerns about the manufacturer and possible adverse side effects, in the spring of 1998, on the heels of a similar directive within the U.S. military, the Canadian Forces made the anthrax immunization mandatory for troops serving in Kuwait. Many soldiers refused the inoculation, citing concerns of a link with so-called Gulf War syndrome. Canada later discontinued the vaccination.
The U.S. Department of Defence, at the behest of a U.S. district court, discontinued in October 2004.
Nearly three quarters of soldiers vaccinated prior to deployment to Afghanistan suffered severe acute reactions, according to Australian defense documents released in early 2004.8 Yet, asked on TV about the safety of the anthrax vaccine, Australian Minister of Defense Robert Hill had claimed two months earlier that, “there hasn’t been any adverse reactions, let alone extreme reactions.” 9
No reports of the vaccinated soldiers’ subsequent health status have been provided to the public.
“The Australian Medical Association has called upon the military to prove the vaccination is safe. ‘If they have that data, the medical profession in Australia would very much like to see it,’ the Association’s president Kerryn Phelps told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.” 10
“Anthrax vaccine serious side-effects kept from soldiers who were vaccinated
21 Feb 2004 – 0:00
Australian authorities vaccinated all its soldiers against anthrax before they went to Iraq. What it did not do, however, was to tell them that most of its soldiers who returned from Afghanistan previously, got ill from taking the same vaccine.
Thank God the soldiers sent to Iraq did not have the unusual side effects the previous soldiers had had.
Most of the Australian troops sent to Afghanistan in 2001 became ill, said the Australian government.
Officials are saying they did not tell the soldiers bond for Iraq because they did not want to make them anxious. They also said that they did not expect the soldiers this time round to suffer any side-effects.
75% of the soldiers sent to Afghanistan became ill as a result of taking the Anthrax vaccine. Confidential papers were released to an Australian newspaper under Freedom-of-Information Rules.
The soldiers experienced swelling, a high level of pain and flu-like symptoms as well. They never found out what caused the side-effects, suspended the vaccination programme for several weeks and then resumed it.
Australian military doctors have suggested that other factors could have contributed to the side-effects felt in Afghanistan. The soldiers were working at constantly changing altitudes, they had high physical workloads and the temperatures fluctuated a great deal.
In 2003, the authorities still went ahead and vaccinated all their troops sent to Iraq, even though they knew what had happened to their troops who had taken this vaccine before. The authorities did not even know what had caused the side-effects.
In order to demonstrate faith in the vaccine, Robert Hill, Australia’s Defence Minister, vaccinated himself just before the troops were sent to Iraq.
About 40 service people were sent back from Iraq because they refused to be jabbed (vaccinated). They have not been disciplined.
So far, no unusual side-effects have been reported since the troops came back from Iraq.
‘We were in a position where all we would have been able to tell them was that there had been a problem,’ Air Commodore Tony Austin told reporters.
‘We had not been able to identify a cause from that and we had absolutely no evidence to suggest that we were likely to see that again, based on overseas experience and our own experience when we reinstituted the programme in Iraq. So, I think to have advised people of that would have been quite counterproductive. I think that would have increased anxiety levels amongst our people.’
Opposition party defence spokesman, Chris Evans said ‘The defence department hasn’t been honest with the troops, hasn’t been honest with the parliament, and the minister needs to provide answers as to what’s gone on here.”
France did not vaccinate its troops for the first Gulf War, and has a low incidence of Gulf War illness in its veterans. An interesting, but brief, article was published by Reuters about this in 2000 but there was never any follow-up. Go to the next page for the article:
2 Hayes SC and World MJ. Adverse reactions to anthrax immunisation in a military field hospital. J Royal Army Med Corps. 2000 Oct;146(3):191-5.
3 Enstone JE, Wale MCJ, Nguyen-Van-Tam JS et al. Adverse medical events in British service personnel following anthrax vaccination. Vaccine 2003; 21:1348-54.
4 Unwin C, Blatchley N, Coker W et al. Health of UK servicemen who served in Persian Gulf War. Lancet 1999: 353: 169.
5 This study was posted on the Canadian Department of National Defense website from 1998 for several years but is no longer online. The study has not been published. This author has a copy, obtained via download.