Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Anthrax Vaccine and Informed Consent in the Military

Barbara Loe Fisher, co-Founder of the National Vaccine Information Center (, writes a lead-in to the latest article about the issue of anthrax vaccine in the military:

"Informed consent to medical procedures which carry a risk of injury or death, such as vaccination, is nothing less than a human right regardless of whether it is exercised in a military or civilian setting. Under legislation enacted by Congress to respond to terrorism threats (Project Bioshield Act), extraordinary power was given to the Secretaries of Defense, Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services to invoke"Emergency Use" (EU) of unapproved drugs and vaccines without giving informed consent. In this, the first attempt to exercise EU authority, the Secretary of Health has enabled the Secretary of Defense to defy a U.S.District Court judge's order that all use of anthrax vaccine without informed consent in the military be stopped. Government officials, eager to exercise their authority, have consistently opposed the right to informed consent whether it applies to parents and their children or military personnel. Congress should take a second look at whether it is wise to give three unelected government officials the power to waive informed consent rights when a person takes a risk of dying or becoming permanently injured by a drug or vaccine."

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