Clinical Topics   /   Infectious Disease

Anthrax Vaccine Didn’t Increase Soldiers’ Disability

By US Medicine

AMHERST, MA – Prior exposure to anthrax vaccine adsorbed (AVA) did not increase risk of disability separation from the Army or receipt of disability compensation from the VA, according to a consultant study.1

Authors of the study from ENVIRON International Corporation in Amherst, MA, said their research provides evidence that vaccination against anthrax is not associated with long-term disability.

The study, published recently in the journal Vaccine, notes that DoD began an anthrax vaccination program in 1998 to protect military personnel against possible biological warfare.

Now, 14 years later, according to study authors, “there is no evidence suggesting vaccination against anthrax carries long-term health risks for active duty soldiers.”

Researchers looked at all active-duty personnel known to have separated from the Army between Dec. 1, 1997, and Dec. 31, 2005. The study group included veterans who were 10% or more disabled as determined either by the Army prior to separation, 5,846, by the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) after separation, 148,934.

The control group of 937,705 were separated from the Army without disability and were not receiving pensions from the VBA as of April 2007.

The study found that vaccination against anthrax was four times more likely among disabled veterans with hostile fire pay records (HFP) indicating deployment. Those vaccinated soldiers had lower odds of disability separation from the Army, and there was no association between vaccine and receiving Army disability benefits among those without HFP.

Vaccination was negatively associated with receiving VA disability benefits for those with HFP (OR=0.66, CI: 0.65, 0.67), and there was little or no association between vaccine and receipt of VA disability benefits for those without HFP (OR=0.95, CI: 0.93, 0.97), researchers reported.

ENVIRON investigators previously studied Army personnel on active duty between 1998 and 2002 to determine if the risk of disability-related discharge from the Army differed for soldiers vaccinated with AVA compared to unvaccinated soldiers. That analysis was subsequently updated through 2005.

1. Sulsky SI, Luippold R, Garman P, Hughes H, Boyko EJ, Maynard C, Amoroso PJ. Disability among US Army Veterans vaccinated against anthrax. Vaccine. 2012 Sep 21;30(43):6150-6. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.07.067. Epub 2012 Aug 5. PubMed PMID: 22874851.


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