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BOB BARR

7th District
Georgia
Assistant Majority Whip

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES

1207 LONGWORTH HOUSE BUILDING
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20515-1007

March 22, 2000

Committees:

Judiciary
Banking and Financial Services
Government Reform

Mr. Howard Wolf
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Dear Howard:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Anthrax vaccine.

The Anthrax vaccine is a formalin- inactivated vaccine designed to protect military personnel against the Anthrax virus, which can be used as a biological weapon.

On October 12, 1999, the House Government Reform Committee, of which I am a member, held a hearing entitled, "Defense Vaccines: Force Protection or False Security?" The hearing examined the role of vaccines in force protection, specifically the design, implementation and procurement strategy of the Anthrax Vaccine. Witnesses at the hearing questioned the safety and effectiveness of the Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program, which proposes to administer an old little-used vaccine to the entire 2.4 million members of the United States military force.

Based on the hearing record, and more than 100,000 pages of documents obtained from the Department of Defense and the Food and Drug Administration, the Committee prepared a report entitled, "The Department of Defense Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program: Unproven Force Protection." The report finds the Anthrax Vaccine Program unsustainable in its present form, due to unreliable vaccine supply, unmanageable program logistics, uncertain safety monitoring, and the unproven efficacy of the current vaccine against the biological warfare threat.

The report recommends development of a safer, more effective vaccine for broad-based military use. In the meantime, the report recommends the Department of Defense undertake the research necessary to make the vaccine safer, including limiting its use to clinical trials requiring informed consent of all those receiving the immunization.

I have called on the Pentagon to immediately end the program, which forces all American military personnel to receive vaccinations for the Anthrax virus. America already asks a great deal from the men and women who serve in our armed forces, without requiring them to receive a vaccine that may pose dangers to their health. It is especially problematic to force Reserve, National Guard, and administrative personnel to take this vaccine, when their odds of being exposed to the virus are extremely low.

In addition to the health dangers of the anthrax vaccine, forcing all personnel to take the vaccine also poses obstacles to recruiting and personnel retention, at a time when force levels are dangerously low. For these reasons, I believe the Pentagon should end this potentially dangerous and controversial program.

Again, thank you for contacting me. Your thoughts and comments are sincerely appreciated.

With kind regards, I am,

very truly yours,

BOB BARR
Member of Congress

 

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