Army: Memo Warning of Bad Anthrax Vaccine Batches Is 'False'

Anthrax vaccine is drawn into a hypodermic needle. U.S. Army officials in Korea announced that an Eighth Army memo warning soldiers about potentially "bad Anthrax" vaccinations given on a large scale is "completely without merit." (U.S. Army photo/Christopher Jones)
Anthrax vaccine is drawn into a hypodermic needle. U.S. Army officials in Korea announced that an Eighth Army memo warning soldiers about potentially "bad Anthrax" vaccinations given on a large scale is "completely without merit." (U.S. Army photo/Christopher Jones)

U.S. Army officials in Korea announced late last night that an Eighth Army memo warning soldiers about potentially "bad Anthrax" vaccinations given on a large scale is "completely without merit."

The announcement follows an explosion of activity on social media after an April 10 memo from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment, in Korea began circulating on Facebook. The memo was intended to advise soldiers who possibly received bad Anthrax vaccinations from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and Fort Drum, New York, from 2001 to 2007 for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom that they may qualify for Veterans Affairs benefits.

"The purpose of this tasking informs soldiers who received bad Anthrax batches from Ft. Campbell and Ft. Drum from 2001-2007 for OEF/OIF IOT notify possible 100 percent VA disabilities due to bad Anthrax batches," the memo states.

Military.com and other media organizations reached out to the Army on Monday to verify the memo. Eighth Army officials in Korea sent out a statement at 9:33 p.m. Wednesday.

"Second Battalion, 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade recently published an internal memorandum with the intent of informing soldiers of the potential health risks associated with the anthrax vaccine based on information they believed was correct," Christina Wright, a spokeswoman for Eighth Army said in an email statement.

"Defense Health Agency representatives have verified the information is false and completely without merit. Once the brigade discovered the error, the correct information was published to their soldiers."

The Eighth Army's release also stated that the "potential side effects of vaccines, including anthrax, are generally mild and temporary. While the risk of serious harm is extremely small, there is a remote chance of a vaccine causing serious injury or death."

The author of the post -- Dee Mkparu, a logistics specialist in U.S. Army Europe -- said that it was not clear if the memo was authentic but thought it was important to make the information public.

"This information was gathered from other veterans through Facebook; the validity of this data has not been fully vetted but I felt it was more important to share this as a possibility that to let it go unknown," Mkparu said.

Mkparu updated his post with 17 potentially bad batch numbers of Anthrax vaccine allegedly found at more than a dozen military installations across the United States as well as Kuwait and South Korea.

"Please get with your VA representative and look into it. Even if it turns out to be false perhaps the Anthrax concerns from so [many] people will bring the issue into the light."

Francisco Urena, the secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services, was quick to call the memo "a fake" in a recent Tweet, advising service members not to share their personal information.

"There is a fake memo circulating social media about a bad batch of anthrax vaccination for VA Compensation," Urena tweeted. "This is a scam. Do not share your personal information. This is not how VA Claims are filed."

VA disability benefits are granted for health conditions incurred in or caused by military service, according to the Eighth Army statement.

"The level of disability is based on how a service-connected condition impacts daily life," according to the statement. "In those rare cases, VA disability or death benefits may be granted."

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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