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Vaccine is Safe, Cohen Assures Troops

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey, April 20, 1998 – Anthrax vaccinations are safe, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen assured service members here April 18.

"Please don't listen to any scare stories," Cohen told about 300 service members. "We had an outside expert make sure that we validated the supply itself -- the safety, the potency of the vaccine. We are all satisfied that it is completely safe, and it is something important for everyone to have."

Cohen addressed American active duty and reserve component service members here during the second stop of a five-day trip to Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and Greece, April 17 to 21.

Cohen visited coalition forces supporting Operation Northern Watch. About 1,300 U.S., 200 British and 100 Turkish troops deployed here enforce the northern "no-fly" zone in Iraq.

Following a brief address to the troops, Cohen brought up the need for anthrax vaccinations during a question and answer session. He said press reports indicated several service members were upset about the fact that they had to receive the vaccinations.

"[Army] Gen. [Hugh] Shelton, [chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,] and I were first in line to receive our shots," the defense secretary said. "I've had three now. I can attest, and my wife, Janet, can attest, there have been no known side effects at this time."

Anthrax vaccinations are a force protection measure, designed to safeguard American troops, Cohen stressed. "It's important that the program go forward as expeditiously as possible. Everyone will be vaccinated against this threat, and we hope to have it completed as soon as we can," he said.

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