U.S. begins vaccinating soldiers in Kuwait

Friday, January 31, 2003

U.S. Central Command has begun vaccinating thousands of American soldiers deployed in Kuwait against an Iraqi germ warfare attack.

U.S. officials said American soldiers in Kuwait are lining up for mandatory smallpox shots. They said the effort has begun with members of the 3rd Infantry Division, deployed in the sheikdom. Essential Defense Department personnel in Kuwait will also be vaccinated, Middle East Newsline reported.

"All who will be in a high-threat area for more than 15 days need to get the smallpox vaccine," Lt. Col. William Corr, division surgeon, said. "We plan to get everybody here vaccinated in one day."

"It's important for those serving here to get the smallpox vaccination because it can be used as a weapon," Corr said. "In its aerosolized form, smallpox can be an effective weapon."

Iraq is believed to have developed smallpox and other biological agents in aerosol form. Corr said this could result in the disease being spread throughout a military camp within one day.

Officials said that over the past month more than 400 health care workers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center received the Dryvax vaccination. So far, they said, no incidents were reported.

The U.S. military has determined, however, that one of out every 1,000 people vaccinated will have serious though not life-threatening reactions.

One out of every million people is expected to die from the vaccination.

The United States has also developed a vaccine for anthrax. Unlike the smallpox vaccine, the anthrax vaccine requires six injectinos and an annual booster.

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