Concern over Anthrax Vaccine Grows Military Personnel, Activists See Dangers

By Jon E. Dougherty

Military men and women are increasingly refusing to be vaccinated against Anthrax for fear the immunization is worse than the threat of disease. There is growing evidence they may be right.

Researchers at Tulane University found that squalene, a naturally occurring substance in the human body, was found in higher than normal levels in the bodies of all service personnel who were vaccinated with a full compliment of vaccines by the U.S. government, whether they actually served in the Persian Gulf or not.

Since that initial discovery, squalene has again surfaced as a possible causative agent in another military vaccine -- Anthrax -- that has sickened more military personnel who have begun taking the series as ordered by the Pentagon last year. Squalene, says Karin Schumaker of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), is added to vaccines ‘either to increase the vaccine's potency or to preserve it." However, she told WorldNetDaily, one reason why more people are becoming alarmed over the use of squalene is because "it has not been fully tested."

Schumaker said one of the reasons why former and current members of the military, as well as immunization research groups like NVIC, oppose vaccines containing the untested squalene is because "the U.S. is going against the Nuremberg codes (established after World War II) and the Helsinki accords." American authorities never officially signed those codes of conduct, Schumaker said, but "since we helped establish them, we ought to be following them. It's almost as though we think we're above the law."

She said that according to those documents, any government wishing to use experimental drugs on their citizens or military personnel had to first get consent from those subjects. But as far as military personnel are concerned, "they haven't done that. Commanders have been demanding that their troops get this Anthrax vaccine, no questions asked." Schumaker added that the military has informed troops that "there is a chance of a mild reaction" to the vaccine, but "then are not allowing men and women to opt out, which is the basis for informed consent."

Even though the military has a responsibility to protect troops sent to an area where biological weapons like Anthrax could be deployed by an enemy, Schumaker said she "understood the need for order and discipline and the ability for troops to take orders from superior officers." However, she said that congressional reports indicated that "out of 50 possible biological weapons, the only one America has a vaccine against is Anthrax."

"Are military minds in this country that inane that they would believe an enemy, believing our troops are protected against an Anthrax attack, would then use Anthrax against them as a weapon?" she asked. "Out of 50 possible choices, I would think an enemy would use an agent we cannot protect our troops against."

Besides, she said, Anthrax can be manufactured "in a number of different strains, so why do we think our troops would be protected against the exact strain launched against them by our enemies?" Though the military vaccinates troops against a number of possible illnesses, "there are no immunizations for the multitude of viruses out there than can be used against you as a weapon." The Pentagon, however, maintains the vaccine is safe and has refused to rescind its order to vaccinate every active duty member of the armed forces.

Nevertheless, increasing numbers of troops have refused to take the series, citing the questionable Pentagon research allegedly declaring the vaccine safe. In fact, a recent report stated that an air wing commander at Dover Air Force Base in Maryland temporarily ordered a halt to the vaccine program before being forced by Pentagon officials to resume the series. However, after repeated attempts to contact Dover AFB, this report remains unconfirmed by WorldNetDaily.

Despite the Pentagon's claims of safety, Schumaker said in fact there have been no long-term studies performed on the Anthrax vaccine and the effects of increased levels of squalene in the human body. Furthermore, while the government is claiming that no experimental drugs are being used on troops, Schumaker said squalene "definitely qualifies as an experimental drug or compound."

"It was a play on words," she told WorldNetDaily. "Yes, squalene is an adjuvant -- a substance that makes the vaccine either work better or preserves it -- and not a real drug, but it's added to the Anthrax vaccine, so it's in there too. The government's statement is technically correct, but come on ... if it's in there, then it should qualify as an experimental compound."

Lori Greenleaf, an activist seeking to discourage government use of the Anthrax vaccine and, specifically, the chemical compound squalene, told WorldNetDaily, "I'm responsible for this battle," which is now raging between former and current military members and the Pentagon over the controversial immunization program.

Her story began when her son, a sailor stationed on the aircraft carrier USS Independent in March 1998, was set to deploy to the Persian Gulf. She said he called her when orders came down from command that the Anthrax immunization program was set to begin aboard ship. Greenleaf said her son told her that "he had been hearing rumors that the vaccine may be linked to Gulf War illnesses." He asked her to "see what I could find out about it, and he told me he'd call me back later to check on my progress."

"He told me they were only given 24-hours notice before the vaccinations would begin," she said.
"I called my state health department, my physician, hospitals -- I called everyone I could think of," said Greenleaf, "but no one had ever heard of it (the Anthrax vaccine). They didn't know what it was." The government claims that "thousands of veterinarians had been using the vaccine for years but that's just not true," she said. "We finally got them to admit that recently," she added, but did not elaborate.

Next, Greenleaf began searching the Internet for information, and found that indeed the vaccine had been linked to Gulf War illnesses. "The thing that really caught my eye was a 1994 Senate report I found that stated that the Anthrax vaccine could not be ruled out as a contributor to Gulf War Sickness," she said.

At that, she said she decided to tell her son to refuse the vaccine, which is given in a series over an 18-month period. "The Independence was the first warship to get the vaccine," Greenleaf said. "At the time he was ordered to take the shot, he only had four months left in the Navy." When her son refused, he was summarily "busted down in rank, restricted to the ship and fined, and was told that the punishment would continue until he agreed to take the vaccine."

"Eventually he decided to take it," Greenleaf added, "after he was threatened with court martial and being dismissed from the service with a less-than-honorable discharge. Since he knew that kind of discharge would follow him all of his life, he changed his mind." Emboldened by the Navy's action against her son, Greenleaf made numerous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and obtained information indicating that the "lot" -- or batch -- of Anthrax vaccine given to sailors on the Independence "was expired when it was given."

"That particular lot was manufactured in 1993, then improperly relabeled," she said. "After they re-dated the lot, they then sent it out to be used to inoculate our troops." Since she began her crusade, she said she has discovered "people coming out of the woodwork everywhere that are ill" and has been contacted by a number of them. Greenleaf testified before Congress March 24, 1999, then attended a follow-up hearing on April 29. She told WorldNetDaily that the Government Accounting Office (GAO) is also conducting an investigation into the mystery surrounding the Gulf War illnesses.

Ultimately, Greenleaf says she'd like to see the immunizations become optional, but realizes that may be impractical given the military considerations of troop inoculations and the dangers U.S. military personnel face from potential weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological warfare. And, she says, "I understand there are many people who want to feel like they're protected against Anthrax, but the GAO has some serious concerns" over whether or not the current vaccine is effective, especially given the high incidence of what can only be described as squalene overdoses.

In the interim, Greenleaf sides with the GAO's conclusion that the military should stop the Anthrax immunization program for now, "given that there have been no long term health studies of the side effects done with this vaccine." Greenleaf said she was considering legal action over the use of the Anthrax vaccine on her son, and has contacted Washington-area attorney Mark Zaid. Zaid told WorldNetDaily that the initial discovery process in the case was proceeding, but "nothing has been received yet. The prosecution has denied our requests, and we're fighting over it."

However, he said a trial date of June 5 had been set, "and discovery motions will be argued on June 9 and 10." He said there are currently no lawsuits that have been filed over the military's immunization programs, but he speculated that he "will probably seek an injunction to stop the program" in the short term.

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