FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
1999-09-21

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
Mark S. Zaid, Esq.
(202) 785-3801

OVER 2500 CONCERNED AMERICANS SIGN INTERNET E-MAIL PETITION SENT TO PRESIDENT CLINTON TO STOP ANTHRAX VACCINATIONS

National Survey Released Sunday Reveals 83% Support Stopping The Mandatory

WASHINGTON, D.C. --

An Internet e-mail petition supporting two pending bills within the House of Representatives that would change the mandatory nature of the Pentagon's Anthrax Vaccination Immunization Program (AVIP) was sent to President Clinton, Secretary of Defense William Cohen, and the Department of the Army on September 17, 1999. The petition, initiated last month by Mark S. Zaid, Esq., the Executive Director of The James Madison Project, was signed by more than 2,500 concerned Americans. Approximately 350 additional signatures were submitted on paper.

"This petition reflects just a small sample of the concern and disapproval of the American people for the Pentagon's anthrax vaccination program," said Mark S. Zaid, Executive Director for The James Madison Project. Congressional support for the two pending bills is growing each week, added Zaid.

The two legislative bills, H.R. 2543 and H.R. 2548, were introduced by Congressmen Walter Jones (R-NC) and Ben Gilman (R-NY), respectively. H.R. 2543 would modify the mandatory nature of the AVIP to voluntary, while H.R. 2548 would impose a moratorium on the AVIP until specific studies are completed. It would also require expedited review for upgrade requests filed by service members who have been administratively or judicially punished for refusing inoculations with the vaccine.

A hearing on the AVIP originally scheduled for September 23, 1999, by Congressman Steve Buyer (R-IN) before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel has been postponed. However, Congressman Christopher Shays, chairman of the House Government Reform's Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs and International Relations will hear testimony on the affect of the AVIP on the military reserves on September 29, 1999.

Additional support for proponents advocating a change to the AVIP was made public this weekend. USAWeekend, a nationally syndicated Sunday magazine, revealed the results of a survey in its September 19, 1999, that overwhelmingly indicated disfavor with the anthrax vaccination program. During July 9-11, 1999, 7,799 readers responded to the question "Should military personnel have the right to refuse anthrax vaccinations?" The split was 83% in favor, to 17% against an individual's right to refuse.

"The American people time and time again have demonstrated their disapproval of the anthrax vaccination program. If Members of Congress appropriately act on their constituents' wishes, there is no reason why the program cannot be stopped during this legislative session," said Zaid. Every concerned American should immediately contact their congressional representatives and voice their support for the pending legislation, added Zaid.

The Defense Department is forcibly inoculating all 2.5 million active duty personnel, regardless of duty station or responsibilities, against anthrax at an estimated cost of $130 million. The immunization series calls for six injections of the vaccine over a period of 18 months, followed by annual booster shots. Vaccinations began in March 1998. The AVIP has been the subject of intense public criticism, particularly for the issuance of misleading and false statements concerning the vaccine. Approximately 300-500 active-duty service-members have refused to accept the vaccine, and many have been dissuaded from filing reports with the FDA concerning possible adverse reactions. More importantly, upwards of 400 fighter and transport pilots have quit or resigned from the Air National Guard or Reserves rather than take the vaccine, thereby jeopardizing the United States' capabilities to conduct an air campaign.

JMP is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization with the primary purpose of educating the public on issues relating to intelligence gathering and operations, secrecy policies, national security and government wrongdoing.