DOD puts a pause on anthrax… again
By Cpl. Danielle M. Bacon
| | November 02, 2004
U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii --
The Defense Department put a temporary pause on all anthrax shots to military personnel while they review an injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Oct. 27.
This is similar to the temporary injunction issued last December, at which time Department of
Defense paused the vaccination program for two weeks pending clarification of legal issues.
At that time it was concluded that the anthrax vaccination is an important force protection measure, and that research conducted by the most prominent medical experts determined that the vaccine is safe and effective for all forms of anthrax exposure.
This new injunction is based on a conclusion by the court that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was required by its regulations to solicit additional public comments before finalizing its conclusion that the anthrax vaccine is safe and effective for the protection against inhalation anthrax.
According to a DOD press release, the injunction does not question the safety and effectiveness of the anthrax vaccine or the immunization program. The DOD remains convinced that the anthrax immunization program complies with all the legal requirements and that the anthrax vaccine is safe and effective.
Pending resolution of the legal issues the Secretary of Defense has directed to stop giving anthrax vaccinations until further notice, per a Memorandum signed October 27.
At this time, voluntary vaccinations via an informed consent is not allowed even if Marines are undergoing the six shot series or need their annual booster, regardless of their location, according to Marine Administrative Message 479/04.
“This doesn’t mean that they will have to start their six shot series over again, it just means that it will shift the window,” said Cmdr. Andrew Spencer, deputy force surgeon, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific. “It is sort of like getting your oil change. If you are a month late getting your oil changed, you just get it changed and the time starts from there.”
While DOD waits for final approval, all vaccines are being sent back to the distribution point. All vaccines within the Marine Corps are sent out from military treatment hospitals.
For Hawaii Marine Corps and Navy bases that is Shipyard Clinic, Pearl Harbor, said Spencer.
For now though, Marines will have to just wait for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to solicit additional public comments and finalize its conclusion that the anthrax vaccine is safe and effective for the protection against inhalation anthrax.