Military Vaccine Resource Directory.
The decision to refuse an order to take a mandatory bioterrorism vaccine is only permissible if the legality of the vaccine is in question. We do not have the right, and it is not our goal, to encourage any service member to refuse a direct order. Instead, we can tell you what to expect if you have decided to refuse a vaccine, particularly the anthrax vaccine.
There are exemptions for every vaccine. Anthrax exemptions are listed below; there are heart problem exemptions for the smallpox vaccine, and that package insert is linked in to that portion of this web site. You can find vaccine information statements at the Centers for Disease Control by clicking here: http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/vis/.
Punishments for refusing a vaccine: Punishments have ranged from nothing - with a troop member being deployed anyway, without vaccination - to a court-martial, fines, time in a military jail, docked pay, reduction in rank, and/or a less-than-honorable discharge. Some refusers end up being convicted felons for life after serving jail time, while others face non-judicial punishments so that the armed forces can exclude them from punishment statistics reserved for judicial proceedings (i.e., courts-martial). Others are allowed to leave quietly and get on with their lives. Still others are allowed to continue to serve. Needless to say, there is no standard of discipline.
The anthrax mandate is known to be a bad order, and, in fact, when announcing the resumption of the mandate in a teleconference last fall, William Winkenwerder, Jr., MD, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, admitted under questioning by a reporter that there is no increased threat of anthrax to members of the armed services.
Exemptions and deferrals:
1. If you are currently underoing a medical workup, you may receive a deferral - that's a delay only, not an exemption.
2. If you have ever had Bells Palsy, Guillain-Barre Syndreom, or any other neurological condition, those constitute exemptions to the anthrax vaccine. The package insert/label to the anthrax vaccine is here: http://www.fda.gov/OHRMS/DOCKETS/98fr/05n-0040-bkg0001.pdf
3. If you are pregnant you should not be vaccinated. See the label for more information.
4. If you have had a severely adverse reaction to a previous anthrax vaccine, you are not supposed to have to take more anthrax vaccines.
There are 5 arguments for refusing the anthrax vaccine, but since it is again mandatory, we do not think these arguments will hold much sway with your commander:
The information provided on this web site should not be misconstrued as legal representation. MVRD is not a legal authority, and provides information based solely on what we've witnessed or what has been reported to us. So if you have decided to refuse, you should immediately request legal representation from your commander, or find an attorney on your own.
Be advised that military judges have not permitted due process with evidence on the safety, efficacy, or the status of the vaccine's licensure to be heard in a trial. Regardless, all members of the armed services are entitled to legal representation. In the Air Force this representation is referred to as your "Area Defense Council." Legal representation is your right. Demand it.
MVRD has resources and experience that can work in conjunction with military defense attorneys if such help is requested. It is also strongly recommended if you are refusing a direct order before or while being deployed that you issue a letter IN WRITING to your commander stating you are willing to deploy without the vaccine.
If you are in the National Guard, you should contact your state Attorney General, as well as your Congressman (http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW_by_State.html), and Senators (http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm). Appeal to them to get involved on your behalf, a process that will normally render more balanced DoD discipline.
You should be certain to exhaust your resources first through your military chain of command. The Attorney General and representatives likely would not get directly involved, however, he/she MAY persuade the Guard to not attempt a court-martial.
The Attorney General of Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, is an example of one top state lawmaker who had the morale courage to become involved and remains keenly interested in this issue. Connecticut AG Blumenthal's letters to DoD and FDA about the anthrax vaccine are linked in on this page of our web site: http://www.milvacs.org/RempferDingle/RempferDingle.cfm.
Senator Bingaman of New Mexico and Congressman Shays of Connecticut have also taken an acute awareness of the problems with mandatory vaccinations in the military. The most crucial aspect to your defense through the Attorney General and elected representatives is education.
Get educated on the facts and begin to set up meetings with your representatives, or have your family members or proxy do so for you. If you need further information about the implications of refusing the anthrax vaccine, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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If You Are Refusing A Direct Order To Take A Vaccine |
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