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Corps Outlines Who Gets Anthrax Shots

Corps outlines who gets anthrax shots
By John Hoellwarth - Staff writerPosted

There’s another needle on the pre-deployment medical checklist for Marines headed to Iraq, Afghanistan or Korea. Everyone heading to the Middle East or Pacific regions is getting the anthrax vaccine, according to a March 19 Corps-wide message.

In February 2006, based on the findings of a Food and Drug Administration analysis of the vaccine, a U.S. Appeals Court dissolved a U.S. District Court injunction that had halted mandatory anthrax vaccinations throughout the military in late 2004. In October, the Defense Department authorized the services to restart immunizations, according to MarAdmin 190/07.
The anthrax vaccine is mandatory for nearly all Marines serving in U.S. Central and Pacific commands for more than 15 days. Pregnant Marines get a deferment, and some other medical conditions require exemption, according to the message.

“Commanders will manage immunization refusals as they would address any refusal to obey a lawful order,” the message reads.

The policy allows Marines younger than 18 or older than 64 to opt out of the anthrax vaccination. The Corps is not allowed to make the vaccine mandatory for these Marines because the FDA tests didn’t include them in the sample population, according to the message. However, they can volunteer to take it.

For everyone else within the age range, “the vaccine is safe and effective,” the message said.
The mandatory immunizations will also apply to stateside members of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command and reservists, individual augmentees, and Defense Department civilians deployed or slated to deploy to South Korea or the Middle East, according to the message.

Marines slated to deploy can begin the immunization process up to 60 days before their departure.

Voluntary for some

Certain other categories of people can volunteer for the shots, including active-duty or Reserve Marines who have received at least one dose of the vaccine and aren’t subject to the mandatory vaccination.

Adult family members of military and civilian personnel going to the CentCom or PaCom areas for more than 15 consecutive days can also volunteer to take the shots.

The vaccination policy requires medical facilities to institute “quality controls” over the pre-screening of Marines “to prevent errors” such as “mandatory vaccinations of Marines in the voluntary category.”

There’s a tri-fold handout involved, according to the message. You’ll need to read that in the clinic.

A Defense Department Web site also offers PowerPoint presentations about the vaccine for individuals, as well as leaders tasked by the message to implement the vaccination program at their units and “properly identify and educate personnel.”

Units are not authorized to begin vaccinations until they register with the Defense Department’s Military Vaccination Agency by submitting an agreement that “affirms they have read the program requirements, completed training and will ensure the program requirements are followed,” according to the policy.

Monthly vaccination reports must be submitted to the agency, which will also track “unauthorized vaccinations” by requiring units to immediately disclose “a full explanation of the circumstances involved, including the number of personnel,” according to the message.