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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 1078-04
October 27, 2004

Anthrax Vaccination Program Paused

The Department of Defense is currently reviewing an injunction issued today by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia regarding the department's anthrax vaccination program.

The injunction did not question the safety and effectiveness of the anthrax vaccine or the immunization program in the DoD. The injunction centered on FDA procedural issues stating that additional public comment should have been sought before the FDA issued its final rule in December of 2003.

The Defense Department's anthrax vaccination program is an important force protection measure. Research conducted by several prominent medical experts and a report by the National Academy of Sciences has determined that the anthrax vaccine is safe and effective for all forms of anthrax exposure.

As a result of the injunction, the Department of Defense will pause giving anthrax vaccinations until the legal situation is clarified.

Todays ruling is similar to the judges injunction issued in December 2003. At that time DoD paused the vaccination program pending clarification of the legal issues. The 2003 injunction was lifted roughly two weeks later.

DoD remains convinced that the anthrax immunization program complies with all the legal requirements and that the anthrax vaccine is safe and effective.

A copy of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfelds memorandum concerning the action is at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Oct2004/d20041027anthrax.pdf