Another Anthrax Vaccine Victim?

Back in early 2003 word from my military command that anthrax vaccines were suddenly required meant my unit was probably deploying somewhere. We all knew of the vaccine's controversial nature. When one Marine said he was refusing to get the shot our command already seemed prepared to deal with such people—and gave him holy hell until he relented.

I didn't really care. If I had a bad reaction, I had a bad reaction—if I didn't, I didn't. I just wanted to go to war.

Sunday the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on one Air Force veteran who doctors say is having a severe neurological reaction to the vaccine:

With his trim runner's build, tight flattop and thin, muscular arms, Stephen DeGuire does not seem like a man who is unable to empty the dishwasher, mow the lawn or throw baseballs to his young sons.

He forgets the names of neighbors he has known for years and grimaces as he pushes himself into a standing position. His torso tilts forward as he walks stiffly through his Mequon home. A wooden cane hangs on a chair in the living room. It is one of a collection that DeGuire keeps around. He frequently forgets where he puts them.

The article goes on to address an interesting point about benefits available to veterans afflicted by their reactions to the vaccine:

Disability linked to reaction from the anthrax vaccine is deemed non-combat-related, meaning veterans like DeGuire are taxed on their disability payments. The anthrax vaccine is also not part of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which allows people who suffered vaccine reactions to collect money for their disability.

Some experts say the anthrax vaccine is totally safe—others point to data that says otherwise. It seems there's really no way to prove it enough for one side to agree with the other. In the meantime DeGuire himself has fallen through a loophole.