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Experts Warn of Potential Adverse Health Effects From AVA Anthrax Vaccine as DoD Plans to Resume Mandatory Vaccinations

Press Release Source: Byron Holcomb, Attorney at Law

Experts Warn of Potential Adverse Health Effects From AVA Anthrax Vaccine as DoD Plans to Resume Mandatory Vaccinations
Lawyers Discuss Legal Strategies to Stop Mandatory Program

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- As the Defense Department (DoD) prepares to resume mandatory AVA (Anthrax Vaccine Absorbed) vaccinations for military overseas, medical experts and military personnel warned of adverse health effects they claim were caused by the vaccine, while victims' attorneys strategized about stopping the vaccinations and discussed securing compensation for victims. The discussions occurred at an October 28 Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminar organized by Byron Holcomb, a leading attorney for victims of the AVA anthrax vaccine and a retired Navy judge advocate general.

Various military personnel recounted how they believe the AVA anthrax vaccine harmed their health and hurt their careers. U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate Captain Kelli Donley developed Idiopathic Spinal Cerebellar Ataxia after receiving the AVA anthrax vaccine. The disease impaired her brain function and motor skills, a U.S. Air Force Medical Evaluation Board ("Board") found. She retired in April of 2006 after the Board granted her a 100 percent disability because she could not practice law or perform tasks requiring high cognitive function or demanding speech.

"Before receiving the anthrax vaccine, I was perfectly healthy and in good shape. Now, I talk with slurred speech, I have trouble walking, and I stopped seeing those seeking legal assistance because their legal issues paled in comparison to mine," said Donley.

Others who spoke of what they believe are the harmful health effects of receiving the AVA anthrax vaccine included Margaret McFann, an Air Force major diagnosed with lupus, and Frank Fisher, MD, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel diagnosed with Still's disease, a rare illness marked by high, spiky fevers, rash, and joint pain, which may lead to chronic arthritis.

A medical expert, who strongly believes in the use of safe and efficacious vaccines, warned of serious and significant concerns about the AVA vaccine's safety profile. Mark Geier, MD, PhD, analyzed the safety of millions of doses of the vaccine using the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), an epidemiological database maintained by the Centers for Disease Control. His analysis is published in peer-reviewed journals, including Hepato- Gastroenterology and the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology. He writes in Hepato-Gastroenterology, "Anthrax vaccine, based upon our analysis of the VAERS, was one of the most reactogenic vaccines we have ever analyzed ... The data showed the use of AVA was frequently followed by a wide variety of reports of adverse reactions that generally occur within 12 days of vaccination."

Lawyers discussed efforts to reverse the government's decision to proceed with mandatory inoculations, as well as legal strategies to gain compensation for victims. Attorney Holcomb said, "Our objective is not to stop vaccination of military personnel, it is to stop the mandatory injection of an experimental vaccine that has failed the safety test time after time."

Holcomb added, "Military boards have already granted permanent military disability to fifteen victims I represented -- professionals in their early 20's and 30's, with bright futures ahead of them -- who became tragically disabled for life by the AVA anthrax vaccine. The military board decisions validate my firm belief that DoD should not resume mandatory inoculations with this vaccine."

Mark Zaid, Esq., whose lawsuit had until recently blocked the Pentagon's mandatory anthrax vaccination program, is committed to stopping its reinstatement. "The anthrax vaccine is unnecessary, unproven and potentially unsafe -- and should not be unlawfully imposed upon our military forces or contractors," he said.