If you suspect you are ill from one of the mandatory vaccines given to you prior to or during a deployment, take the following steps:
- Keep a daily journal of each shot you had, when you had it, the lot number, and where you were stationed when you got the shot. List each reaction you have had to each shot. If you went for medical treatment, keep track of who you saw and when, and what kind of treatment or recommendations you received. Even if your reaction – your symptom or illness – seems to have developed some time after taking the vaccine, write it down anyway, with a note as to whether you ever had such a symptom or illness before taking the vaccine.
- Get copies of your medical records. This is critically important. The daily journal is meant to supplement your formal medical record and shot record, which you should have copies of. If you don’t have copies, get them immediately. You may or may not be able to get them later if needed.
- File a VAERS report at https://secure.vaers.org/VaersDataEntryintro.htm. This is the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System through the FDA, and your identity will be confidential. You may be told that others will file this for you, but the only way to be sure is to do it yourself.
- If you are still on active duty, and need more medical help and advice than you seem to be getting, read this brochure and call the number listed: http://www.vaccines.mil/documents/3896_Anthrax_Brochure_01_27_2016.pdf
Keep in mind the military is, as one would expect, downplaying the truth about the anthrax vaccine. First, it was a cutaneous anthrax vaccine licensed in 1970, not a vaccine for aerosolized anthrax. The configuration of the original, licensed vaccine was changed at the Army’s request, and the new vaccine was never licensed. Secondly, realize the brochure quotes research on civilians, not on member of the armed services. The makes an enormous difference, since there have been multiple problems with proper storage, the timeline for giving the vaccine within the armed services, and the manner in which the vaccines are administered.
Third, there certainly have been many, many service members and veterans who have suffered long-term or lifelong debilitating effects to their health from the anthrax vaccine.
Fourth, people have died from taking the anthrax vaccine.
The only bit of good news on this brochure is that there are now five shots required instead of six, and the timeline has been stretched out a little bit as a result. However, if you read the timeline of the vaccine’s development posted elsewhere on this site, you’ll see clearly that the original dose was supposed to be just three shots; there was never any recommendation or research to back up the switch to six (now five) shots. The military calls the current dosage three shots with two boosters; but originally neither the boosters nor the annual shots thereafter were recommended.
There are six Vaccine Healthcare Centers around the country, but unfortunately none are in the Midwest or the West: http://www.usamma.army.mil/assets/docs/AboutVHC.pdf
These have been authorized and funded by Congress out of concern for military vaccine safety: it seems obvious that there must have been a substantial need in order for these to have been built.
A case manager assigned to you will want to review your medical records. If you need further tests, these will be done at your base if it has the capabilities. If not, then you’ll be referred to a Vaccine Healthcare Center as close to you as possible, or to Walter Reed itself. Your unit is financially responsible in either case.
If you are newly ill, and just now trying to find help, it is important to understand a few things right away:
- Although you will receive excellent testing and support at Walter Reed or another Vaccine Healthcare Center (the normal stay is about two weeks), and may find help in alleviating your symptoms, there may not be a cure for the underlying problems. There has been no long-term study done on service members concerning the anthrax vaccine. As with most vaccines, the effects hit the immune system the hardest – and often the neurological system. Western medicine is ill-prepared to deal with these types of illnesses. Please see our health care suggestions on this website for alternative medical and nutritional suggestions which seem to have helped a number of our sick troops and vets.
- If necessary, a Vaccine Healthcare Center can suggest to your unit that you be exempt from further shots, but cannot order such an exemption.
- Again, obtain a copy of your Vaccine Health Center medical records summary, with any attendant recommendation.
- Follow through. Make your appointments, and keep them. This applies to both the Vaccine Health Care Centers and working with the VA. If you don’t stay in consistent contact and keep your appointments, it may be assumed that you no longer need help.
- If your unit is objecting to your request for review or treatment at a Vaccine Healthcare Center, let them know. Walter Reed and other VHCs may be able to have some influence and help you get the permission you need.
- The same advice applies if you are facing a Medical Evaluation Board (MEB): keep your appointments religiously; take all medications as prescribed; stay in constant contact, and be sure all the people you have seen and the whole record of your experience has been entered into your chart, which is the defining document.
- You may opt to face a Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) in order to contest an MEB decision if you have been rated at less than 30% disability. If you are sure you’re sicker than that, it is worth spending the time to contest the rating and buying yourself a little more time to continue tracking your illness and laying down a paper trail.
- For more on the MEB and PEB processes, see the following web sites:
- Military Medical Standards for Continued Service: http://usmilitary.about.com/od/theorderlyroom/l/blmedstandards.htm
- Army MED and PEB:
- Disabled American Veterans: http://www.dav.org
- If you are facing a Medical Evaluation Board or a Physical Evaluation Board, you are entitled to free legal services through the military to find a military attorney to represent you.
- This is not an endorsement, but this firm says it provides civilian counsel for military personnel: http://klimaskilaw.com/civilian-lawyers-for-military-personnel/. However, remember that the Feres Doctrine will prevent you from suing for adverse reactions to the vaccines.
- Finally, please see our section on this website entitled “Rebuilding Your Life.” We want to help you get beyond feeling “stuck” in your illness and in your life, and give you specific tools for moving into the future.