Anthrax Vaccine Side Effects Disable Many Military Veterans, Yet Very Little Help Is Available
Date Published: Tuesday, October 30th, 2007
The Anthrax vaccine, a mandatory immunization for many people serving in
the US military, has been linked to dozens of serious side effects and
adverse reactions. But in spite of this, the Department of Defense still
insists that the defective drug is perfectly safe. And even though
thousands of veterans have been permanently disabled following reactions to
Anthrax vaccine side effects, the US government refuses to classify these
injuries as combat related. As a result, many disabled veterans face even
greater economic hardship because their already-paltry disability benefits
are still subject to income tax.
The US military began requiring many of its uniformed personnel and
civilian contractors to receive an Anthrax vaccine in 1998, amid concerns
that enemies might use the deadly virus in biological weapons. Since then,
well over 1 million people have received the controversial Anthrax vaccine.
In 2004, military personnel were given a reprieve from mandatory Anthrax
vaccinations when a US court ruled that the Food & Drug Administration
(FDA) had to approve its use. But the FDA did that in short order in 2005,
and now the Anthrax vaccine is again a requirement for soldiers and
contractors serving in the Middle East, Central Asia and Korea.
To date, the FDA has received more than 5,000 adverse event reports for
the Anthrax vaccine on its Vaccine Adverse Reporting System. At least 670
reports were classified as "serious", and 44 resulted in deaths. Some
doctors have attributed 10-15 medical conditions to the Anthrax vaccine,
and the side effects include everything from hearing loss, sleep disorders
and neurological problems that mimic Multiple Sclerosis. In spite of this,
the Anthrax vaccine is not part of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation
Program that allows people injured by defective vaccines to collect money
for their injuries.
Soldiers and their families have repeatedly asked the Defense Department
to stop using the Anthrax vaccine, but so far it has refused. For soldiers
disabled by the Anthrax vaccine, life becomes both a physical and financial
struggle. Those suffering the most serious Anthrax vaccine side effects can
no longer work, and are forced to rely on disability payments that can
equal as little as a third of what they earned before they became sick.
What's worse, even though the Anthrax vaccine is purportedly meant to
protect these soldiers in combat situations, the injuries resulting from
them are not considered combat related. As a result, these already
cash-strapped veterans must pay taxes on these small disability payments.
So far, the US military has resisted all efforts to recognize Anthrax
vaccine side effects, let alone reclassify these debilitating injuries as
combat related. But a new bill in Congress could provide help to some
veterans disabled by Anthrax vaccine side effects. While not specifically
related to the Anthrax vaccine, the Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act
would give all disabled soldiers the same benefits given to retired
veterans with 20 years of service. While this won't protect future soldiers
from the ravages of Anthrax vaccine side effects, the act could lighten the
financial burden faced by those disabled from exposure to this dangerous
Randi J. Airola, (c) 517-819-5926
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