Bubonic Plague Vaccine (Everybody forgot to mention it?)

Posted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 3:57 am    Post subject: Bubonic Plague Vaccine (Everybody forgot to mention it?)

I was given an Adenovirus vaccine in 1963 and a Bubonic Plague vaccine about 1967 or 1968.

I did not volunteer for these (had absolutely no choice in either matter...) In fact I suspected that the Adenovirus vaccine was experimental but did not realize the Bubonic Plague vaccine was also experimental until a nurse a couple of years ago mentioned that she was unaware of a Bubonic Plague vaccine!

The Bubonic Plague vaccine was administered when I worked in Cheyenne Mountain. They said the chipmunks in the area were carriers of Bubonic Plague. It was 2 cubic centimeters of the stingingest stuff I was ever injected with!

Looks like I also have a high probability of having been injected with SV-40 contaminant.

They stopped the Adenovirus experiment in 1963 when they realized the vaccine was contaminated. I received my injection between January and March of 1963.

I was in the Air Force but could not locate anyone in the Air Force keeping tabs on this but I did locate an Army officer in the Pentagon who acknowledged these studies (below...)

Barger, Lewis L MAJ OTSG wrote:

Mr. Anderson,
Thank you for your inquiry and your interest in our website, but I'm afraid I can't answer your question about whether or not your immunization contained the SV-40 contaminant. I work in the Office of the Surgeon General of the Army and we do not have access to Air Force medical records. SV-40 was found in adenovirus vaccine seeds in 1963, resulting in a halt in the vaccination program and rescission of the vaccine license. Field trials for a new program were conducted from 1964-1970, and a new vaccination program was implemented in 1971. In 1994, vaccine production problems led to a halt in the program. With regards to determining which batch of vaccine you were administered, I would suggest you consult with the Air Force Surgeon General's Office.

Regarding your hope that we record failures as well as successes, I presume the document that you refer to is "A Decade of Progress: The United States Army Medical Department, 1959-1969." This book, published in 1971, is an important record of programs that the Army Medical Department was involved in during that period, but was written primarily to highlight the successes of the department. Treatment of the adenovirus issue was limited to a paragraph, and does not contain much detail. We do maintain a large number of documents which offer a much more balanced review of contemporary issues, although we don't keep all of them on our website. A good place to start would be Mary C. Gillett's three volumes on the history of the Army Medical Department, all of which are available through the website.

Two articles that you might wish to consult for a more detailed treatment of the history of adenovirus vaccination research are: Gaydos, Charlotte A. and COL Gaydos, Joel C., "Adenovirus Vaccines in the U.S. Military," Military Medicine, 160(6), June 1995; pp. 300-304, and Dudding, Burton A., Top, Franklin H., Jr., Winter, Phillip E., Buescher, Edward L., Lamson, Thomas H, and Leibovitz, Albert, "Acute Respiratory Disease in Military Trainees: The Adenovirus Surveillance Program, 1966-1971," American Journal of Epidemiology, 97(3), 1973; pp. 187-198.

Thanks again for your interest,

MAJ Lew Barger


For what its worth, I am a retired Air Force Major.