GAO Reports Pilots Avoiding Duty and Leaving Service to Avoid Anthrax Shots

As a former Air Force Fighter Pilot (1964-1975, F4s and F101s) we used to joke about how many pilots would have to die in an unnecessary accident before the Air Force fixed a minor switch in the cockpit that was causing the problem. Well, how many pilots have to be seriously affected by Anthrax shots before they bail out of the service?

Well, they are already bailing out. Pilots aren’t stupid and they know when to pull the handles on the ejection seat. See:

Report to Congressional Requesters: ANTHRAX VACCINE GAO’s Survey of Guard and Reserve Pilots and Aircrew. GAO-02-445, September 2002.

For a news report on the problem, see:

GAO: Shots Led to Military Attrition, Nov. 14, 2002, By Timothy W. Maier

Page 4 GAO-02-445 Anthrax Vaccine

On the basis of our survey, 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). Each shot generated an average of four or more reported reactions. More importantly, almost onefifth of the reported events were categorized as systemic and about onefifth of these systemic reactions lasted for more than 7 days. Some of these reactions could have negative implications for an individual’s work performance and job safety.

The systemic reaction rate reported through the survey represents a level more than a hundred times higher than the 0.2 percent published in the product insert.

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