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If You Are Refusing A Direct Order To Take A Vaccine
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:

  1. According to a federal court the Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed (AVA) is investigational.  Please see the home page under the press release section to learn more about this.  Even though you will be told that the anthrax vaccine is safe, effective, and re-licensed by the FDA, the entries below should cause you some questions.

    • "AVA is an investigational drug and a drug being used for an unapproved purpose. As a result of this status, the DoD is in violation of 10 USC 1107, Executive Order 13139, and DoD Directive 6200.2."
    • 2003-04: Court rulings confirm illegality of mandatory anthrax inoculations: In December 2003 and October 2004 the Federal Court Rulings confirmed that "The involuntary anthrax vaccination program, as applied to all persons, is rendered illegal absent informed consent or a Presidential waiver." In February 2006 the Washington DC Federal Appeals Court declined to vacate or overturn the ruling that the anthrax vaccine was illegal, despite FDA's attempt to fix the paperwork and re-license the vaccine in December 2005.
    • 2006: GAO confirms vaccine problems remain: Via testimony in report GAO-06-756T the Congressional watchdog agency continued to question the "long-term and short-term safety of the vaccine, including gender differences; and the vaccine's efficacy." GAO again confirmed that the "long-term safety of the licensed vaccine has not been studied," and that the efficacy of the vaccine for DoD's intended use against inhaled anthrax "may not be extrapolated to humans."
    • 2006: DoD Press and Courts attempt to rewrite the history of the anthrax vaccine: DoD begins misinformation campaign to negate the import of Federal Court decisions confirming the anthrax vaccine program was illegal. Pentagon spokesperson claims, "No judicial judgment has declared such orders to have been unlawful," which is a patent falsity. Additionally, military judges at the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces rule that the DoD presumed the order to be legal previously, and therefore refuse to reverse previous court-martials.
  2. The vaccine's efficacy is unproven (efficacy must be proven for the order to be legal):

    As the federal court noted, "The Brachman Study noted that there have been no controlled clinical trials in humans of the efficacy of the currently licensed U.S. vaccine. Plaintiffs correctly note that there have been no subsequent human studies on the efficacy of the vaccine against inhalation anthrax since that time."

    UNPROVEN FORCE PROTECTION, a Congressional report by the House Committee on Government Reform found that the "the current anthrax vaccine for force protection against biological warfare should be considered experimental."

  3. The anthrax vaccine is not proven to be safe (safety must be proven as well):

    • Congressional General Accounting Office (GAO) Findings on the Safety and Efficacy of the Anthrax Vaccine. NSIAD-00-54R -- Abstract -- "The long-term safety of the vaccine has not been studied"

    • An Institute of Medicine Letter Report on the anthrax vaccine admits: "There is a paucity of published peer-reviewed literature on the safety of the anthrax vaccine." v Another GAO Report, Anthrax Vaccine: GAO's Survey of Guard and Reserve Pilot

    • Another GAO Report, Anthrax Vaccine: GAO's Survey of Guard and Reserve Pilots and Aircrew (GAO-02-445 -- Abstract) confirmed that "systemic reaction rate reported through the survey represents a level more than a hundred times higher than the 0.2 percent published in the product insert."

  4. The anthrax vaccine was illegally altered (all doses used from illegally altered stock):

    • GAO -- Anthrax Vaccine: Changes to the Manufacturing Process. GAO-02-181T -- Abstract -- "Michigan did not notify FDA of several changes to the manufacturing process in the early 1990s, and no specific studies were done to confirm that vaccine quality was not affected."

  5. The anthrax vaccine is a possible cause of Gulf War Illness as a matter of public law [Public Law 105-277, title XVI, sec. 1603(d)]:

 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 contact@mvrd.org


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