posted on Jun, 30 2004 @ 01:10 PM
The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs has just announced that Service personnel, DOD Contractors and other individuals serving in the
Pacific region are to be given Anthrax and Smallpox innoculations.
By JOHN J. LUMPKIN
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
WASHINGTON -- The military will begin giving anthrax and smallpox vaccines to tens of thousands of troops in the Pacific region and Middle East to
help protect them against biological warfare, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.
The expanded vaccination program is the result of an increased supply of the vaccines, particularly the anthrax vaccine, and not new intelligence on
the threat of anthrax or smallpox weapons in those regions, said Dr. William Winkenwerder, Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.
The most significant group affected by the new orders will be troops who would face combat against North Korea. Any member of the military who is
going to South Korea, or would go there early in a crisis, would receive both vaccines, officials said.
"Just knowing our personnel are protected can create a deterrent for our adversaries' use of these weapons," Winkenwerder said.
Some troops deployed to the Middle East region have received the vaccines. Now, everyone sent to the area managed by U.S. Central Command - which
stretches from North Africa to Pakistan - will be required to take them, unless doctors determine they are at risk from the vaccines.
Defense Department contractors and civilian employees deemed essential will also be required to take the vaccines. Nonessential contractors and
civilians have the option of taking them, as do family members of soldiers, contractors and civilian employees who live in the affected regions