DoD Experience with Anthrax, Smallpox Vaccines Shows Safety
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2004 The military's anthrax and smallpox immunizations are safe to administer to service members, a senior military medical officer told 2004 Tricare conference attendees here Jan. 28.
"The vaccination programs we operate are designed to keep troops healthy, to help troops get back home safely," said Army Col. John D. Grabenstein, deputy director of clinical operations for the Military Vaccine Agency.
Concerns about the safety of the vaccines, Grabenstein said, have been thoroughly checked, with findings provided to federal health officials and civilian physicians. Service members, he explained, are medically screened before receiving the vaccines. Very few serious ill effects have been attributed to the administration of the vaccines, Grabenstein pointed out.
The military's anthrax and smallpox vaccine programs have been under way for seven and two years, respectively. Grabenstein said more than a million people across DoD have received anthrax immunizations, and about 560,000 service members and civilians have received smallpox vaccination.
"We continue to collect data on vaccine safety," Grabenstein said, emphasizing that officials "look at both the trees and the forest, both groups of service members and individual ones."