Anthrax Vaccine: GAO's Survey of Guard and Reserve Pilots and Aircrew

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A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "GAO reviewed the views of pilots and aircrew members of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve regarding the Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program (AVIP) of the Department of Defense (DOD). In December 1997, the Secretary of Defense announced a plan to inoculate U.S. forces against the potential battlefield use of anthrax as a biological warfare (BW) agent. In the context of the conventional battlefield, the nature and magnitude of the military BW threat has not changed materially since 1990 in terms of the number of ... continued below

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United States. General Accounting Office. September 20, 2002.

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Description

A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "GAO reviewed the views of pilots and aircrew members of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve regarding the Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program (AVIP) of the Department of Defense (DOD). In December 1997, the Secretary of Defense announced a plan to inoculate U.S. forces against the potential battlefield use of anthrax as a biological warfare (BW) agent. In the context of the conventional battlefield, the nature and magnitude of the military BW threat has not changed materially since 1990 in terms of the number of countries suspected of developing BW capability, the types of BW agents they possess, or their ability to weaponize and deliver BW agents. In marked contrast to other mandatory DOD immunization requirements, GAO's 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. Between September 1998 and September 2000, 16 percent of the pilots and aircrew members of the guard and reserve had (1) transferred to another unit (primarily to nonflying positions to avoid or delay receiving the anthrax shots), (2) moved to inactive status, or (3) left the military. Additionally, one in five of those still participating in or assigned to a unit in 2000 indicated their intention to leave in the near future. At the time of the survey, two-thirds of the guard and reserve pilots and aircrew members did not support DOD's mandatory AVIP or any future immunization programs planned for other BW agents. However, these negative views did not appear to indicate a general antivaccine bias. On the basis of the survey, GAO 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. 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 the survey. Respondents to the survey indicated that they had not reported most of the reactions they cited to the military chain of command through official or informal channels and that they were not reported to Food and Drug Administration's Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). Reasons survey respondents gave for not reporting to the military chain of command included a lack of awareness of VAERS, a concern about the loss of flight status, a possibly adverse effect on military or civilian career, and a fear of ridicule."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • September 20, 2002

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

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United States. General Accounting Office. Anthrax Vaccine: GAO's Survey of Guard and Reserve Pilots and Aircrew, report, September 20, 2002; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc292770/: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.