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Reports Shows Anthrax Vaccine Safe, Effective

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FAYETTEVILLE — If you mention the words "anthraxvaccine," some servicemen shudder. They think the shots are untested and unreliable.

Some have even refused the vaccine, but newly released numbers show it to be safe and effective.

No one atFort Bragghas ever refused to take the anthrax vaccination, but some anxiety still exists. Fort Bragg officials hope the new figures will help ease concerns.

Brig. Gen. Kenneth Farmer is Fort Bragg's Director of Health Care Operations. Monday, he took his third in a series of six anthrax vaccination shots. Farmer says the vaccine is one of the safest on record.

"When compared to DPT, the tetanus vaccine that every school child gets, it's less reactive," said Farmer.

New figures from theDepartment of Defenseshow that out of 977,000 shots given to military members, 103 people reported reactions. Only 14 were severe enough for them to stay home for a day.

"It really reinforces what we already know," said Farmer.

Still, 200 military members nationwide have refused to take the shot. Lt. Col. Katie Carr has counseled soldiers and their spouses who have concerns. She believes the new figures will reassure them.

"I think it's a great confidence booster to soldiers who might have doubts about the safety of the product," explained Carr.

With more studies under way, military leaders support this immunization as the best protection against biological weapons containing anthrax.

"The right thing to do is to protect the threat, and that's what we are doing with thisanthrax vaccine program," said Farmer.

About 3,500 Fort Bragg soldiers are already going through the vaccination program.

By the year 2005, all active and reserve service members will have received the vaccination.