May 3 (Reuters) - A former U.S. Air Force officer and an Air
Force physician who refused to take the Pentagon's mandatory anthrax
have filed a federal lawsuit targeting the vaccination program, the
Washington Post reported on Thursday.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, claims the Food and
Administration (FDA) never authorized the vaccine for protection against
biological warfare, the Post said.
Citing health and safety concerns, the plaintiffs asked the court to require
the FDA to treat the vaccine as an experimental drug, which would mean it
could be not administered without consent, the newspaper said.
The lawsuit was filed by Sonnie Bates, a major who was discharged last year
and John Buck, a doctor, who is scheduled to face court-martial in
the Post said.
The newspaper quoted lawyers who said Bates was the highest-ranking active
duty officer to refuse the vaccine and that Buck was the first military
physician to do so.
The Post said a victory for Bates and Buck would end the military's
One of their attorneys told the Post: "The ultimate purpose of this
is to open the eyes of the Pentagon and the new administration and have them
say, 'Enough is enough; this has to end.'"
The Post said Defense Department spokesman Jim Turner declined to comment on
the lawsuit, but defended the vaccine.
"This is an FDA-approved vaccine, and it's safe and effective,"
There have been previous challenges to the military's policy on
constitutional grounds, but an attorney for the plaintiffs in this case told
the Post it is the first one to challenge the FDA's role in the
Dozens of military personnel complained last year to a congressional panel
that the mandatory anthrax inoculations were making people ill and said the
vaccines should be halted or made voluntary.
Nearly 500,000 active and reserve troops have taken at least one of the
series of anthrax vaccinations.
The Defense Department had planned to immunize all 2.4 million active and
reserve troops against anthrax, but because of a continuing vaccine
the program has been limited mostly to troops deployed to the Persian Gulf
this day to the ending of the world,
we in it shall be remember'd;
few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
he to-day that sheds his blood with me
be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
day shall gentle his condition:
gentlemen in England now a-bed
think themselves accursed they were not here,
hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day".
Henry V by William Shakespeare