Immunization program resumes administering anthrax vaccine

by Gerry Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

A federal judge ruled Jan. 7 that the Defense Department could again legally administer anthrax immunizations to troops.
That same day, Department of Defense personnel chief, Dr. David Chu, noted in a department wide memorandum that military commanders “should immediately resume the anthrax vaccination program.”
The department’s anthrax vaccine immunization program had been in hiatus since Dec. 23, after an injunction granted by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia caused DOD to suspend the program.
The department, Chu wrote in the memo, “remains convinced that the (program) complies with all legal requirements, and there is now no judicial restraint” on administration of the vaccine.
Senior DOD leaders, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, maintain that the anthrax vaccine is a safe and necessary prophylactic for U.S. troops deployed in the war against terrorism where enemies may employ biological, chemical or nuclear weapons of mass destruction.
Both Mr. Rumsfeld and General Myers have received anthrax shots.