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Anthrax Threat.

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Anthrax Threat Luis Robles Today's US military personnel around the world face a new threat: Biological weapons. To protect the US troops against Biological weapons; the Department of Defense implemented a mandatory vaccination program against anthrax. This was justified to counter an increasing threat from hostile countries and possible terrorist groups that now or in the future will likely possess the capability of fielding weaponized anthrax spores as a Biological Weapon. This decision has resulted in court-martials and disciplinary hearings among U.S. Armed Forces personnel who have refused the anthrax vaccine on safety grounds. Are these individuals overreacting to misperceived risks from the anthrax vaccine that the military considers safe, or are there real safety concerns that should be considered? "Anthrax is a rare, infectious disease that is transmitted to humans most commonly by farm animals. The disease is caused by the bacterium bacillus anthracis. Anthrax may also be spread through the inhalation of bacterium spores. ...read more.


The first three shots are given in two-week intervals. The following three shots are administered at 6, 12, and 18 months. As of today there have been 79 adverse reactions out of nearly 900,000 shots given so far. According to Ken Bacon, Pentagon spokesperson, "This is a lower adverse reaction rate than in the [diphtheria, polio, tetanus] vaccine that all our children have received"(qtd in Garamone 2). Are this statistics completely true? A major part of the problem in assessing vaccine safety is in how vaccine adverse effects are reported. Many people who suffer from adverse anthrax vaccine effects are reluctant to step forward to seek medical care because they have seen their colleagues' concerns dismissed as due to depression or stress. They also fear that they could lose their ability to perform their duties, as a number of the pilots and airmen at Dover AFB are now on DNIF (duties not including flying) ...read more.


If they could not reach an agreement, they will face a court-martial. If found guilty, they are sent to jail for up to 45 days and will be release with "other than honorable" discharge. The U.S. military's strategy of defense against Biological Weapons agents is prior immunization using multiple vaccines. Unfortunately, this can only be successful if the exact Biological weapons agents likely to be encountered are known in great detail and for some time in advance of exposure. For example, the vaccine against anthrax requires a rather lengthy immunization protocol, administering multiple vaccine and booster doses over more than a year. If multiple vaccines were to be administered, then they would have to be administered at different times to prevent immune suppression or excessive stimulation. Obviously, this strategy requires advance knowledge of the threat and careful long-term preparation against the threat. To prepare for any new threat that arises will require some time, possibly years or over a decade. Recent reports have appeared indicating that the Russians have developed anthrax strains for which it is claimed protective vaccines do not exist. ...read more.

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