"I’d rather have caught a bullet from an AK 47 than gotten injected with this stuff. At least I would have known what my fate would have been."
Federal regulators last week approved a plan by biotechnology company, VaxGen to test its experimental anthrax vaccine on about 100 people.
The human volunteers will be injected with the experimental vaccine to see if it’s safe and produces the desired immune response.
VaxGen was awarded a $13.6 million federal contract to begin work on the anthrax vaccine. The company is applying for two more anthrax vaccine contracts. The contracts are expected to be awarded later this year for advanced testing and manufacturing of 25 million doses.
In the last few years, a number of published studies have linked anthrax vaccination to the development of Gulf War Syndrome, among them a study in the British medical journal the Lancet. Hundreds of soldiers have refused the shots after evidence emerged that the vaccinations are connected to a variety of illnesses.
But then the Bush administration went on the offensive. The Pentagon funded an Institute of Medicine study which concluded in March 2002 the anthrax vaccine is safe and effective against all anthrax strains and routes of infection. Its conclusions were based on unpublished research–also funded by the Pentagon.
The story doesn’t stop there. Bioport, the nation’s sole, licensed anthrax vaccine lab has repeatedly failed FDA inspections which found among other things, contamination.
The FDA cleared BioPort’s manufacturing plant to begin producing the vaccine again in January 2002–months after the letters containing anthrax were sent to Congress and news organizations. Bioport was also allowed to distribute the 500,000 doses of the vaccine already in stock. The vaccine was offered to some postal workers and others who were exposed. But most refused to take it.
The anthrax vaccine is mandatory for all military service members assigned to "high-risk" areas. At least part of the six-shot series, which takes a year and a half to administer, has been given to about 700,000 service members. It will be eventually administered to all 2.5 million service members.
Since 1998, when the vaccinations began, nearly 500 active-duty service-members have refused the vaccine, and more than 100 have been court-martialed. According to government figures, approximately 500 to 1,000 pilots and flight crew members have quit, resigned or transferred from the Air National Guard or reserves rather than take the vaccine.
Award-winning documentary "Direct Order" tells the story of members of the military who were ordered against their will to receive the controversial anthrax vaccine.
- "Direct Order"–award-winning documentary directed by Scott Miller and narrated by Michael Douglas.