Invoked Religion in Refusal to Take Anthrax Shots
Marine 1st Lt. Erick Enz didn't fight the charge; he pleaded
guilty this week, to the serious charge of disobeying orders.
Considering how seriously the Corps takes such action, he got a
relatively 'light' sentence: seven months in jail and dismissal
from the Marine Corps.
The problem for the CH-46 pilot came when he refused to get
the mandated anthrax vaccination. Enz, who leads a Bible study
group, said he thought and prayed a long time before refusing
to accept the vaccine... on religious grounds. The Military Judge,
Col. Steven Day, said the "religious grounds" defense was
inadmissable; Enz had no option but to plead guilty.
He could have received five years; but the Daily News of
Jacksonville (FL) says there was a pretrial agreement worked
out -- he may, seven month sentence notwithstanding, be allowed to
return to his five kids after just 30 days.
An unpopular, ineffective, poorly-run, possibly
A look at the Clinton
Administration's 1997 program to force anthrax vaccination on all
military was published in September, by the General Accounting
Office (GAO-02-445). It noted that the anthrax vaccine wasn't all
that benign. In fact, the report noted, "In marked contrast to
other mandatory DOD immunization requirements, our sample survey in
2000 showed that AVIP was at that time adversely affecting the
retention of trained and experienced guard and reserve pilots and
aircrew members. While many factors can and do influence an
individual’s decision to participate in the military, a
significant number of pilot and aircrew members cited the required
mandatory anthrax immunization as a key reason for reducing their
participation or leaving the military altogether
Nobody liked it, especially officers; and they didn't trust the
program. The report: "From our survey, we estimate that 77 percent
would not have taken the anthrax vaccine if it had been offered on
a voluntary basis. Almost 9 of 10 reported that they would have safety
concerns if an additional vaccine for other BW agents were added to
the military’s required immunization program. Additional
analysis showed that officers were statistically more likely than
enlisted personnel to report that they would not have taken the
anthrax vaccine voluntarily."
Threat from enemy isn't defined; threat from vaccination is
The GAO report continues, "...we estimated that 37
percent of the guard and reserve pilots and aircrew members had
received one or more anthrax shots as of September 2000. Of these
recipients, 85 percent reported experiencing some type of
reaction (local or systemic or both). This overall rate
reported for adverse reactions following anthrax immunization was
more than double the rate published in the vaccine
manufacturer’s product insert that was in use at the time of
our survey (84 percent versus approximately 30 percent)."
The government's buying, using old vaccine.
Thanks to a government-granted monopoly, there's just one source
of the anthrax vaccine, and that source, BioPort
Corporation, stopped producing in 1998 after the FDA
effectively shut it down for "repeated deviations from applicable
manufacturing standards for the vaccine." Until production resumed
in late 2002, the military was injecting vaccine that was at least
four years old, and as much as ten or so, according to the GAO
report. [Whether all-new vaccines are now available, or, if so, are
being used, was not mentioned in the September, 2002 report. In a
related story, q.v., there's a 'new' vaccine on the way --ed.]
So, had the Sea Knight pilot perhaps used science,
empirical data, and the GAO's report, rather than religion as the
basis for his refusal to be injected with the potion, his point
might, at least, have been considered. Or not.