HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Monday, December 5, 2005

Pentagon Underreported Anthrax-Related Hospitalizations to Congress

According to the first installment in a four-part series in the Hampton Roads Daily Press, "[t]he Pentagon never told Congress about more than 20,000 hospitalizations involving troops who'd taken the anthrax vaccine, despite repeated promises that such cases would be publicly disclosed."

It's unclear how many of the hospitalizations were actually anthrax-related:

No one knows how many, or how few, of the 20,765 hospitalizations are directly attributable to the vaccine. Ruling out certain illnesses, such as broken bones or injuries from falls or other accidents, might appear a safe bet. But military doctors have documented cases where broken bones and other injuries from falling were the result of vaccine-induced loss of consciousness affecting the nervous system - sometimes beginning months after vaccination.

The difficulty of figuring out what's related and what isn't is why safety officials encourage people to file reports even if they're not sure.

There are all kinds of reasons to believe that very few of the hospitalizations are related to the anthrax vaccine, but the military's refusal to help create a database on vaccine recipients certainly isn't advancing the cause of science on this subject.  [tm]

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