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WAR RESOURCE CENTER
Too Much Bioterror?
BY REDMOND HANDY
Responding to campaign questions on federal health policies in
the September 2000 issue of U.S. Medicine, compassionate
conservative George W. Bush wrote: "The Defense Department's
Anthrax Immunization Program has raised numerous health concerns
and caused fear among . . . our military and their families.
Under my administration, soldiers and their families will be
taken into consideration."
Really? How many military families did the commander-in-chief
consult before renewing anthrax shots? Many of the anthrax shots
are now being administered overseas away from easy public
scrutiny. But more than a decade of intolerable adverse reaction
data and highly negative congressional and media reports are
still available. Inevitably, service members are again objecting
to unresolved safety, efficacy, legality, necessity, and program
corruption issues. Gulf War groups
and vaccine opponents report increasing calls for help.
The cries of outrage, however, are not being heard. With another
mandatory bioterror vaccine for smallpox announced last month,
military families are probably wondering just what is meant by
The administration's smallpox vaccine policy has already created
a pandemic of problems. If Iraq has Russia's genetically altered
strain, the U. S. vaccine is useless. Historically, other
strains or the vaccine itself were responsible for catastrophic
shot campaigns. After 35 years of compulsory and multiple
smallpox vaccinations in mid-1800s Prussia, a smallpox outbreak
there killed 125,000. During the early 1900s, the U. S. Army's
mandatory smallpox vaccine campaign in the Philippines (25
million injections in 10 million Filipinos) failed to prevent
163,000 infections and 75,000 deaths.
Official estimates project the smallpox vaccine will kill three
(or many more) people per million recipients.President Ford
stopped the swine flu vaccine in 1976 after only three deaths in
46 million shot recipients. Apparently, the Bush administration
won't blink if 46 million smallpox vaccinations cause more than
Two major health workers unions and 80 hospitals have pledged
not to give or take the vaccine without an actual smallpox case.
The health workers' pledge
says the military shots should be stopped.
Respected medical journals, such as the January 2003 Journal
of the American Medical Association, are addressing the
administration's poor risk/benefit analysis. One author
personally observed the dynamics of smallpox transmission in
crowded Pakistan. He noted that infectious smallpox victims are
too sick to be in public. Their symptoms are sufficiently
visible to enact effective containment measures, as was done
with a German smallpox outbreak in the
late 1980s. Another JAMA article pointed out the high
risk of inducing a self-inflicted epidemic. In the December 2002
American Medical News, Dr. Jeffrey Sartin characterized
smallpox vaccinations given prior to the outbreak of smallpox
cases as tantamount to "giving dangerous chemotherapy before
cancer has been diagnosed." Also, the Institute of Medicine has
concluded the administration's policy is too rushed and lacks
adequate safeguards (New York Times, 1/15/03).
The administration's biowarfare vaccine policies fail to be
compassionate, conservative, or considerate of military family
concerns. Everyone should become thoroughly knowledgeable about
the dangers of smallpox and anthrax vaccinations that are
premature, forced, used improperly, or outright illegal.
Homeland Security Bill provisions allow Health and Human
Services Secretary Tommy Thompson to declare even a potential
bioterror "emergency" and call for nationwide, pre-emptive
injections for all citizens.
As for now, the administration's bioterror vaccine policy itself
is already too much bioterror.
After meeting vaccine victims and conducting extensive
research, Redmond Handy retired in protest of the anthrax shot
policy from his Pentagon position as a colonel in the Air Force
Reserve. He testified twice before Congress and is a consultant
with the National Gulf War Resource Center. Handy can be reached
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