ANTHRAX: House Members Urge Military to Halt Program
According to a letter signed by more than two dozen House members, Defense Secretary William Cohen should order an "immediate halt" to the anthrax vaccination program, the Associated Press reports. Written by Rep. Jack Metcalf (R-Wash.), the letter cites recent findings and criticisms from the House Government Reform Committee's national security subcommittee about the program, and concludes that it is a "flawed policy that should be immediately stopped." The letter also urges the military to comply with the Feb. 17 recommendations of the House panel. Military leaders, however, claim that many of the factors pointed out by Metcalf "were taken out of context." FDA and Pentagon officials contend that the vaccine is "safe and effective." In 1998, Cohen initiated a plan to inoculate all 2.4 million American military personnel against anthrax as protection against biological warfare. The vaccine has come under increasing fire from lawmakers and soldiers, who complain of fever, muscle pain and dizziness as a result of the six-shot regimen. To date, the military has immunized about 570,000 people (Hughes, 5/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.