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Straight Talk on Anthrax from Top Doc

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 1999 – A video interview of Dr. Sue Bailey, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, has been added to the DoD anthrax information site on the World Wide Web.

During the Armed Forces Radio and Television News Center "2- Minute Report" broadcast, Bailey talks about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccinations. She discusses false reports that some service members had received contaminated injections.

The report can be viewed and heard using Real Video software, which can be downloaded to government computers free of charge.

A more detailed print version of the Bailey interview also is available. Bailey goes on to discuss the importance of the shots in protecting service members against weaponized anthrax, which is nearly 100 percent fatal if you're unprotected. She said the vaccines work best when used with other protective measures, such as chemical protection clothing and gas masks.

Both the video and news release can be found under "What's New" on the "Countering the Anthrax Threat" Web site. The site also contains a detailed, informative history of anthrax, including a section called "Fact vs. Myth" that addresses common misconceptions about the disease, the vaccine and the immunization program.

Defense Secretary William S. Cohen directed the DoD-wide immunization program in late 1997. Before units began receiving the shots last summer, the Army, as executive agent, set up a vaccination tracking system to ensure compliance. Cohen also appointed Dr. Gerald Burrow of Yale University to review and assess the plan before implementation.

Service members and some mission-essential civilians assigned to the Persian Gulf region began receiving the six-shot series in summer 1998. Those in or headed to South Korea began the 18- month series in September. Cohen said it will take DoD seven years to inoculate the total force of some 2.4 million active duty and reserve members.

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