Anthrax vaccinations set to continue at air force base
May 14, 1999
By Rod Hafemeister
Belleville News-Democrat

The commander of Dover Air Force Base ordered the resumption of anthrax vaccinations Tuesday.

A week ago the commander halted the controversial program at the Delaware base because medical personnel could not adequately answer airmen’s questions.

Last week, officials at Air Mobility Command headquarters at Scott Air Force Base described Col. Felix Grieder, commander of the 436th Airlift Wing, as bending over backwards to take care of his troops.

Thursday, Dover spokesman Maj. Frank Smolinsky said Grieder ordered resumption of the shots Tuesday after airmen on the base were briefed by a team led by Lt. Gen. Charles H. Roadman II, the Air Force surgeon general.

“They provided the information in a manner and a depth that allowed our people to leave much more confident in the program,” Smolinsky said. “Although there were a lot of questions, no question was left unanswered.”

Dover is home to an active duty and a reserve wing that both fly the giant C-5 Galaxy cargo plane and boast of providing one-fourth of Air Mobility Command’s strategic airlift capability.

Anthrax is a livestock disease that can be almost 100 percent fatal when used as a biological weapon. Several nations, including Iraq, are known to have created anthrax weapons.

But the Pentagon has drawn increasing fire since announcing in December 1997 that it was launching a program to eventually vaccinate all 2.4 million active duty, National Guard and reserve service members against anthrax.

Critics point out that the vaccine has never been proven to work against anthrax weapons and no long-term safety studies have been done since the vaccine was licensed in 1970.

A congressional committee is holding hearings on the program.

Originally Published, May 14, 1999, Belleville News Democrat, Belleville, Illinois
(c) 1999, Belleville News-Democrat, Belleville, Ill.

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