Anthrax vaccine risk row

The government has denied troops are being asked to sign waivers to say they
will not claim compensation if they become ill after having vaccinations.
There had been reports that soldiers preparing to go to the Gulf were being
asked to sign the waiver when they were given jabs, including the anthrax

The wife of an RAF solider from Bury St Edmunds, wrote to the Daily
Telegraph to say her husband, who is about to leave for the Gulf, had been
asked to sign a waiver when he was offered vaccinations.

She wrote: "He was told, if he wanted to have these jabs, he had to sign a
disclaimer saying that, if he had illness in the future, he couldn't claim

She added: "I am disgusted that these men and women are being sent possibly
to fight a war that no one wants and, besides worrying about the immediate
danger they could be exposed to, have the long-term worry of 'could I get
ill from these inoculations and who will protect me if I do."

The National Gulf Veterans and Families Association said earlier in the week
that it had been contacted by a female member of 16 Air Assault Brigade who
said she had been asked to sign a waiver.

It has also expressed concerns over the safety of the vaccine.

Shaun Ruisling, chairman of the association, said: "These are great

"It seems to be the case that soldiers are damned if they do have the
vaccine and damned if they don't."

But Lewis Moonie, defence minister told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that
soldiers were "categorically not" being asked to sign waivers.

"They are not being asked to sign.

"When someone refuses a vaccination, not when they take one, a record is
kept - signed by the doctor and the person - to say they understand they
have been offered the vaccination and they have refused to do it.

"So it's the exact opposite of what's being said."

Dr Moonie said the Ministry of Defence had very good public health reasons
for wanting its troops to take all the vaccinations on offer, including

He said they were told they should have the vaccines, but it was still

He said it was safe and had been given for many years without any cases of
serious side effects being noted.

However, he admitted that full immunisation took about six months, but there
was some immediate protection from the jab.

"If anybody thinks they have been asked to sign any kind of waiver, I would
ask them to get in touch with us, and we will put their minds at rest.

"We have no intention of asking people to sign waivers. We will not do it.
And, as far as I know, we are not doing it at present."