Soldiers Disciplined For Refusal of Anthrax Vaccine


Video: US Troops Refuse Deadly Mandatory Anthrax Vaccine

This news report shows that more and more US soldiers are refusing the mandatory multi-dose Anthrax vaccine, which has been found to make the troops ill--and, in many cases, kill them as well.

Although soldiers would most likely come in contact with Anthrax in the United States over any other country, the vaccine is mandatory in the armed forces for anyone being sent overseas.

Date: Thu, 9 Apr 1998 16:27:17 -0400 (EDT)

WASHINGTON - The Navy has punished 14 sailors for refusing to take an anthrax vaccine, and two airmen also have refused to take the shots, military officials said yesterday.

More than 15,000 service men and women in the Persian Gulf, where about 37,000 US troops are stationed, have started taking the series of inoculations, military officials said. In December, Defense Secretary William Cohen ordered all 1.5 million men and women in the service to take the shots to protect them against a potential attack with the biological warfare agent.

The inoculation program began several weeks ago in the Persian Gulf, where a potential of attack from Iraq was deemed highest.

''The policy is the shots are mandatory,'' said Pentagon spokesman Colonel Richard Bridges. ''It's that simple. They don't have a choice if they want to wear a uniform.''

The refusals appear to stem from a wariness about the drug, which is not experimental and has been used for decades. Those who remain in the service ''are being counseled, so they will not be ill at ease'' about taking the vaccine, said one military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

An Air Force spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Geisel, said the two airmen who have refused to take the shots could face disciplinary action and their exact status is unclear.

Seven sailors each from the two aircraft carriers in the Gulf - the USS John C. Stennis and the USS Independence - appeared at ''captain's mast'' hearings, where administrative punishments were handed out over the past several days.

Two sailors on the Stennis were discharged; boh ''had a pattern of misconduct,'' said Lieutenant Commander Mark McDonald, a spokesman for the Navy's US Atlantic Fleet.

The Stennis is based in Norfolk, Va. The two men were discharged for ''refusing to obey a lawful order'' and were given administrative separations from the service, McDonald said. He declined to give any further details about the other misconduct allegations.

The other sailors received various levels of discipline ranging from restrictions to the ship, extra duty and reduction in rank in some cases, said Commander Kevin Wensing, a spokesman for the US Pacific Fleet, based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

All of the sailors were junior in rank and in their first term in the Navy, Wensing said. Two of the sailors on the Independence who had refused to take the shots later relented and their charges were dismissed, he said.

No reports of any Army or Marine Corps refusals have surfaced, spokesmen said.

This story ran on page A33 of the Boston Globe on 04/09/98. _ Copyright 1998 Globe Newspaper Company.


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