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DATE=12/13/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=ANTHRAX VACCINE PROBLEMS (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-257120 BYLINE=JIM RANDLE DATELINE=PENTAGON CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Pentagon officials report more problems in their effort to vaccinate all U-S military personnel against deadly anthrax germ weapons. V-O-A's Jim Randle reports, bureaucratic tangles and scientific advances may delay vaccinations for hundreds of thousands of soldiers for a year -- or longer. TEXT: Defense Secretary William Cohen has ordered more than two-million active duty and reserve U-S soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to get shots to protect them from anthrax. It takes six shots [inoculations] over several years to get full protection from the disease, which is almost always fatal. Pentagon officials say Iraq and North Korea may be developing ways to use anthrax germs on the battlefield, so troops serving in the Persian Gulf or Korea are first in line to get the protection. At a briefing Monday, Pentagon health officials said production problems mean there is just enough vaccine to protect only these 383-thousand "first-to-fight" troops. Others will have to wait. There was only one facility in the United States that could manufacture the vaccine, and it has been torn down as part of an effort to boost production several- hundred-fold. The assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, Dr. Sue Bailey, says officials had no idea it would take so long to get the expanded replacement factory running properly. /// BAILEY ACT /// It has been more difficult than the Department [of Defense] and Bioport [the vaccine maker] expected, to move from a small state-regulated facility to a large, modern production facility that meets the state-of-the-art F-D-A [U-S Food and Drug Administration] requirements. /// END ACT /// Pentagon officials say the construction work is finished, but Food and Drug Administration inspectors found 30 problems with the facility operating plan. Until those are corrected, no vaccine can be produced, which may take six months, a year, or even longer. And the cost is likely to be another seven-million to 10-million dollars -- on top of [in addition to] an 18-million-dollar cash infusion the Pentagon sent to the contractor, "Bioport," last August, to correct unforeseen business problems. The cost over-runs will boost the price of the overall program to at least 158-million dollars. Pentagon officials attribute some of the delay to the plant's problems in adapting to advances in biotechnology. Meantime, some two-hundred U-S military personnel have refused to take the shots, complaining the vaccine is unsafe. Some have been disciplined for refusing to follow orders, and a few have been thrown out of the service. Pentagon officials say the vaccine has been used for decades without problems. Dr. Bailey says hundreds of thousands of doses have been given to U-S personnel, and only six have required hospitalization due to allergic reactions. She says there have been no deaths or serious illnesses due to the vaccine. /// REST OPT /// Thousands of doses of anthrax vaccine have been sold to Canada and a few other nations, and South Korea is said to be considering using the vaccine. (Signed) NEB/JR/WTW 13-Dec-1999 16:53 PM EDT (13-Dec-1999 2153 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .