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Anthrax vaccine likely to be made compulsory - Earth Times

Author : Brian Holmes
News Category : Health

Anthrax is a contagious disease caused by the spore forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. A vaccine for Anthrax had been mandatory for many military personnel up until October 2004, after which it had been made a voluntary inoculation.

On Monday, the Pentagon has stated that it will once again be compulsory for troops and persons from the civilian Defense Department who are likely to visit dangerous regions to take this vaccine on health grounds.

The program is to come into effect within the next 30 to 60 days. The federal Food and Drugs Administration has certified that the vaccine which involves 6 shots in the beginning and 1 annual shot, is supposed to be effective and safe. There is no concrete evidence that the epidemic has attacked once again, but according to sources, the threat is present in the Middle East, Korean Peninsula and Central Asia.

Under the voluntary program, only about 50 percent of troops had opted to take the vaccine. Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, has stated that this percentage is too low and does not protect the U.S. forces adequately against bio-terrorist attacks.

The compulsory administration of this vaccine had been strongly opposed in the past. It was contended that this vaccine was not completely reliable. On the contrary instead of benefiting the person taking the vaccine, it was likely to adversely affect the person's health. Once again, there are expected to be fresh lawsuits filed against this move. Those against the vaccine have challenged that people other than those at the front are equally at risk.

Efforts are being made to convince the troops of the importance and safety of this vaccine. Supervisors of defense staff are being involved in propagating the use of this vaccine. Refusal to take the vaccine may have similar consequences as going against the law. A significant number of troops were discharged for refusing the vaccine in 2004, and similar punishments may be effected once again.