The United States military started administering the anthrax vaccine during the Gulf War to fight the risk of exposure to the rare anthrax disease, which can be weaponized. The anthrax vaccine, a mandatory immunization for service members until 2004, has been linked to dozens of adverse reactions and long-term side effects.
Many military personnel and Veterans are now dealing with disabling conditions and adverse events that may be connected to the anthrax vaccine. If you suspect that you are dealing with symptoms linked to the anthrax vaccine, keep reading. This article provides valuable information about the long-term adverse effects of the anthrax vaccine on many Veterans’ well-being and the public health of Veterans.
In addition, it’s important to note that many Veterans who suffer from the long-term effects of the anthrax vaccine can qualify for disability benefits. The effects of the anthrax vaccine, if linked to a current health condition, can be considered grounds for establishing a service-connected disability. If you have long-term health issues related to your service, you can file a claim with the VA to start receiving compensation for the health problems that the anthrax vaccine has caused you. All Veterans should be protected from the effects of this vaccine, regardless of its current status with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Many of us remember the distinct “burning arm” feeling of the vaccine. The other reported mild or moderate adverse reactions and health effects included:
More serious adverse reactions can include:
Most of these side effects only lasted for a short time, but many U.S. military Veterans are now also experiencing disabling long-term health problems that may be linked to the anthrax vaccine. These long-term effects can be the grounds for receiving significant disability compensation from the VA.
While the United States government has not thoroughly researched the long-term side effects of the anthrax vaccine on military Veterans, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the vaccine contributed to the collective chronic illnesses and disabilities known as Gulf War Syndrome. According to a recent article in Stars and Stripes, the Department of Veterans Affairs denies over 80% of benefits claims filed by military Veterans for illnesses and conditions related to the Gulf War. The anthrax vaccine was deployed as a direct response to the weaponization of anthrax spores, or also known as bacillus anthracis, and the serious health problems that occur from being exposed to the infectious disease. In nature, the disease is most common in infected animals such as livestock and other animal products, but it can cause serious problems in humans if inhaled anthrax bacteria leads to active anthrax infection.
Gulf War Syndrome is described by the VA as a “chronic multi-symptom illness,” and the name “Gulf War Syndrome” is often used as more of an umbrella term to describe a wide variety of symptoms that many Gulf War Veterans experienced during and after their time in the military. Gulf War Syndrome can be difficult to diagnose, which can make it tough for some Veterans to get a service connection for their disabilities.
However, the VA recognizes Gulf War Syndrome symptoms as grounds for granting presumptive service connection to many Veterans. If a Veteran served in the Gulf War during specific time periods, they might be eligible for presumptive service connection for long-term side effects of the anthrax vaccine.
The FDA has confirmed that Squalene – an oil-based adjuvant that hyperactivates the immune system – was used in some of the batches of the anthrax vaccine given to military members in the early 1990s. Squalene is very dangerous to use as an adjuvant because it can cause the body’s immune system to self-destruct.
Over 2 million doses of the anthrax vaccine were given to United States military members from 1990 to 2001. Thousands of Gulf War Veterans may have received an anthrax vaccine with the Squalene adjuvant. Extensive research on other squalene-containing vaccines around the world links Squalene to long-term severe neurological and immune system dysfunction.
Long-term side effects for military Veterans who received the anthrax vaccine with the Squalene adjuvant may include:
If you are a Gulf War Veteran who received the anthrax vaccine, you may still be dealing with the vaccine’s long-term effects. If so, you may be eligible for presumptive service connection and significant disability benefits. If you served during the Gulf War during the VA’s timeframe for presumed service connection, your anthrax vaccine side effects are more likely to get service-connected. However, there are other ways to get a service connection for disabilities that don’t require meeting the requirements for the presumptive connection.
The first step to work towards getting disability benefits for anthrax vaccine side effects is to file a VA disability claim. You can file your claim online, by mail, or in person at your regional VA office. Once the VA has your claim, they will start the process of making a decision regarding whether to grant you monthly tax-free disability compensation.
After you file your disability claim, your regional VA facility will ask you to undergo a Compensation & Pension Exam. The VA will use the data they collect from this examination to determine how severe your symptoms are and how diagnosable your condition is. A VA-affiliated physician will also review your military medical records and take any X-rays or test results from your personal doctor into consideration. Once the VA has the results of your C&P exam, you are one step closer to receiving a decision regarding your claim.
If the VA denies your claim for anthrax vaccine-related disability benefits, it may be for a few reasons.
If the VA denies your claim for disability benefits for anthrax vaccine-related conditions, don’t give up – there is still a chance that you can receive the benefits that you need.
If a Veteran’s disability claim is denied, they have the right to appeal the VA’s decision. You can also make an appeal to the VA if they approved your disability claim but gave you a lower disability rating than you deserve.
During the VA appeals process, you can present the VA with relevant evidence that may have an influence on the outcome of your claim. You can improve the effectiveness of additional evidence by enlisting the help of an experienced attorney. Our team of skilled, dedicated legal professionals is ready and able to support you throughout the VA appeals process. We can represent you at your regional VA review and in higher courts if necessary.
The VA is currently only reviewing cases regarding adverse effects from the anthrax vaccination program during the 1990-2001 period. A doctor’s statement must link your vaccination to the symptoms you are experiencing before you can obtain compensation. If you have submitted a VA disability claim and been denied, we may be able to help. We have spent decades assisting Veterans in the appeals process. Our team can fight for your disability benefits if you have been issued a denial or poorly rated decision within the last twelve months.
If your claim has been denied, make sure to look at your appeal options as soon as you can. There is a one-year window for making an appeal for a VA disability claim, so the sooner you start the appeals process, the better. Your service entitled you to certain benefits guaranteed by the VA and Department of Defense (DOD), and you should utilize them in any situation where your service has left you with diminished quality of life.
Contact us as soon as possible. Your consultation will be free, and it will give us a sense of how we can better serve you and help you get the benefits that you need and deserve. No Veteran should have to go through the appeals process on their own. If you need help making an appeal, we’re here for you every step of the way.
Established in 1965 by Vietnam War Veteran and attorney John Stevens Berry, Sr., Berry Law Firm is a team of Veterans dedicated to defending, safeguarding, and fighting to protect the rights of Veterans. Over the decades, thousands of Veterans from across the country and all branches of the military have trusted our firm with their cases and, more importantly, their futures.
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