Local News

Fort Bragg Soldier In Trouble For Refusing To Take Anthrax Vaccine

Posted November 6, 2000 6:00 a.m. EST

— Military officials say it is safe, but some soldiers still worry about taking theanthrax vaccine. AFort Braggsoldier who refused the shot is now paying the price.

TheU.S. Department of Defense (DOD)says 500,000 soldiers have gotten the FDA-approved anthrax vaccine with no serious side effects, but specialist Andrew Kisala, 22, refused to take the series of shots.

"The issue for us is maintaining good order and discipline," says Maj. Gary Tallman. "We had a soldier who refused to obey DOD policy. We tried to educate the soldier."

By refusing to take the anthrax shot, Kisala was sentenced to 30 days in military prison, reduced to the lowest enlisted rank and will be kicked out of the army. He is serving his sentence at the Camp LeJeune Detention Center.

"I didn't think it was safe," he says. "I'll never have to worry about being sick when I'm older because of something I put in my body when I was young."

Veteran Toney Edwards has concerns about the vaccine, too. He testified in front of Congress after his son broke out with critical skin blisters shortly after he received his third shot.

"I have to admire the guy for standing up for what he thinks is right. I would not have taken the shot," he says.

However, not all soldiers agree. Sgt. Elton Norman says it is a soldier's responsibility to follow policy when you sign on the dotted line.

"You have to obey orders of your superiors. When you don't, you have to deal with the consequences that come along with it," he says.

Kisala is the first Fort Bragg soldier to be court-martialed and discharged from the Army as a result of refusing the anthrax vaccine. Four airman atPope Air Force Basehave been also discharged for the same offense.