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Ohio National Guard Member Charged For Refusing Anthrax Vaccine

Reported by: AP News
Web produced by: Neil Relyea

An Ohio National Guard member has been charged by the Army with disobeying a lawful order after he again refused to take the anthrax vaccine. Specialist Kurt Hickman refused to take the series of shots on January 14 after his unit was deployed to Camp Atterbury in Indiana in preparation for going overseas.

Hickman, who has said the vaccine can cause serious side effects, was formally charged on Friday as an active duty member of the Army, which places the case under the federal uniform code of military justice, according to Army Major Chris Pfaff.

Hickman could go to jail and be discharged if convicted.

Pfaff said the charge is separate from Hickman's court martial in Ohio last month.

Hickman, 20-years old, of Granville, became the first Ohio National Guard member to be court-martialed after he was convicted of disobeying a direct order in November to take the vaccination.

A military judge recommended he serve 40-days in jail, be demoted from specialist to private and receive a bad conduct discharge.

Pfaff said any penalties incurred from the latest charge could be added to those from Ohio, which are currently under review.

Hickman's previous penalty was put on hold after U.S. District Judge Emmett Sullivan ruled that the military could not force troops to take shots against their will without an order of the president.

Sullivan lifted his ban earlier this month after the FDA said the vaccine was safe and effective for use against inhaled anthrax.

More than 900,000 servicemen and women have received the shots, and hundreds of service members have been punished or discharged for refusing them, according to the Pentagon.