Forced Use of Anthrax Vaccine

In response to an article in Air Force Times (Gannett), July 10, 2006

Pentagon weighs options in anthrax vaccine suit
Latest hearing pushed back at government’s request

The fate of U.S. soldiers, who refused an order to be injected with the highly reactive anthrax vaccine, is shared by both U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan and the Department of Defense (DOD). Sullivan is the federal court judge in Washington, D.C. who issued an injunction in October 2004 halting mandatory anthrax vaccination of all US military personnel without obtaining voluntary, informed consent.

In February 2006, an appellate court asked Sullivan to decide whether DOD had the legal right to order that the experimental anthrax vaccine be injected into all troops for 14 years before the FDA licensed it for use against inhalation (weaponized) anthrax in December 2005. The DOD was supposed to answer Sullivan's questions at a scheduled June 27, 2006 federal court hearing but DOD requested postponement of the hearing.

Ever since the Gulf War began in 1991, millions of US soliders have been forced to get the experimental anthrax vaccine. There have been tens of thousands of reports of brain and immune system dysfunction, including death, among soldiers following vaccination. After seeing many of their colleagues die and become crippled after anthrax vaccination, more than 400 soldiers refused the vaccine and were court martialed, dishonorably discharged or otherwise forced to leave the military. If Sullivan rules that it was unlawful for the DOD to order troops to take an experimental anthrax vaccine without their informed consent, the soliders who have been punished for refusing to take the vaccine will be able to petition DOD for correction of their service records.

In March, 2005, the National Vaccine Information Center joined with groups representing vaccine injured soldiers and filed an amicus brief in the lawsuit John Doe et al v. Donald Rumsfeld (Secretary of Defense) protesting the lack of informed consent protections in the military's mandatory anthrax vaccination program. The amicus brief specifically addressed the apparently contrived use of the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) under Project Bioshield by the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and DOD to get around Judge Sullivan's 2004 injunction that required the DOD to give soldiers voluntary, informed consent to anthrax vaccination. The DOD and DHHS claimed an "emergency" existed which required supsension of soldiers' right to informed consent to use of an experimental vaccine or drug.

In the amicus brief, NVIC and co-signers, pointed out that "FDA's history of regulatory malfesance with respect to anthrax vaccine, combined with the emergency use provision of the 2004 Bioshield Act, create the scenario for an anthrax vaccine disaster that affects a much larger segment of the U.S. population, and not just the military."

Federal legislation passed since September 11, 2001 has set the stage for forced use of experimental vaccines and drugs in both military and civilian settings whenever the politically appointed Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) declares an "emergency." There will be no recourse to appeal the emergency declaration to anyone, including the courts.. The cavalier use of the EUA by the Secretaries of DHHS and DOD in the case of forced anthrax vaccination of soldiers is a chilling example of what American citizens will face in the future.

Americans would do well to remember why the informed consent ethic is so important to fight for and protect. At the Doctor's Trial at Nuremberg after World War II, medical doctors employed by the German state were put on trial for forcing experimental medical interventions on citizens. Although those medical doctors were tried for incomparable crimes against humanity, the Nuremberg Tribunal wisely understood that the only way to deter all forms of medical exploitation of vulnerable people was to require doctors inside and outside of government to adhere to the ethical principle of voluntary, informed consent. At the trial's end, the Tribunal issued "The Nuremberg Code" to serve as a guide to the ethical practice of medicine.

Vaccination is a medical intervention performed on a healthy individual which can kill or injure that individual. Therefore, voluntary, informed consent to vaccination, in either a military or civilian setting, is a human right.

No comments: