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Military Smallpox Vaccine May Have Killed Soldier

Global Security Newswire

Required military vaccines might have killed a 26-year-old U.S. Army soldier in 2005, the U.S. Defense Department said yesterday (see GSN, Dec. 5, 2005).

Pfc. Christopher Abston received smallpox and influenza vaccine injections in November. He died 16 days later, on Dec. 4 in his Fort Bragg, N.C., barracks, Reuters reported.

A medical expert panel said it was “possible” the vaccines administered by the military caused the death, the Pentagon said in a release. An autopsy report revealed that Abston experienced myocarditis, or an inflammation of the heart muscle, a reaction that can be triggered by the smallpox vaccine.

“The expert panel cautioned that the findings pointing to vaccinations were neither probably nor unlikely, but they do suggest the possibility that the vaccines may have caused Abston’s death,” the release said.

Military troops have questioned the safety of required shots and some have been discharged after refusing to be vaccinated.

The Pentagon said that out of 1 million military personnel who have received the smallpox vaccine since 2002, 120 people contracted myocarditis or comparable conditions. Abston is the only reported fatality.

An earlier panel said the 2003 death of an Army medic might have been linked to a set of mandatory vaccinations, including shots for anthrax and smallpox (Will Dunham, Reuters, June 22).