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Congressman Walter B. Jones

July 16, 1999

CONTACT: Kimberly Nielsen


Bill Scraps Mandatory Program Until FDA Approves New Vaccination or Reduced Shot Course

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Walter B. Jones (R-NC), Member of the House Committee on Armed Services, today introduced legislation to make the current Department of Defense anthrax vaccination immunization program voluntary for all members of the Uniformed Services.

Jones' bill, the American Military Health Protection Act, will make the current mandatory program voluntary to United States military personnel until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a new anthrax vaccination for humans or approves a reduced course of shots, down from the existing six-shot program.

"The lack of a single, conclusive independent study on the long-term health effects of the anthrax vaccine on humans has created legitimate growing concerns among our men and women in uniform," Jones said. "Despite continued assurances by the Department of Defense that adverse reactions to the vaccination are minimal, the Department's standards used to measure the reactions haven't been able to support their claims."

"Without conclusive data on the long-term health effects of this vaccination, we have literally forced our United States soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines to choose between the safety and security of their families and their commitment to serving this great country," Jones said. "Until we can successfully provide the necessary information to lay to rest the concerns of our U.S. troops, making the program voluntary is the most fair and reasonable solution to the problem."

"Currently, Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) is moving forward with a series of congressional hearings looking into the anthrax vaccine program, which include the safety and effectiveness of the program and adverse reactions to it. The need for these hearings is substantial justification that we have a serious problem on our hands. Until we can determine its safety, we cannot expect our military to continue receiving what may be an unsafe immunization," Jones said.

"I have heard from too many military officers and enlisted personnel from the State of North Carolina alone, whose fierce loyalty and dedication to this country has forced them to leave the service rather than disobey a direct order to take the inoculation," Jones said. "I feel that I would be failing in my responsibility if I did not take action to protect the troops who willingly sacrifice their own lives in defense of this nation and its citizens."

Jones represents North Carolina's Third Congressional District - which includes Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, and the Elizabeth City Coast Guard Station - in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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