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Anthrax Vaccine Rejected by More US Military Personnel

In what seems to be an increasing trend, more military personnel are willing to face harsh penalties rather than receive the anthrax vaccine. The television news show "60 Minutes" ran a story on Feb. 6, 2000 concerning an ever increasing number of military personnel refusing the anthrax vaccine. In some cases those in the reserves were resigning from the service rather than submit to the vaccination. The featured military officer was Major Sonnie Bates who faces court-martial or prison for his stand. In addition to the 60 Minutes show an Associated Press article of Jan. 29, 2000 also reported on Major Sonnie Bates who may be the highest ranking officer in the US Air Force to face court-martial for refusing the shots. In support of the Major, dozens of people protested outside Dover Air Force Base. The protesters carried signs which read: "Free Major Bates" and "My husband will take a bullet for America but not the Anthrax vaccine." "The people who refuse this vaccine are being raped of the same civil rights they fight to protect," said one protester Gloria Webb of Ellendale. In defense of his actions Major Bates commented, "I am doing what I have always been trained to do and taught to do," he said. "If you know it is right, you stand up for it. And likewise, if you know it is wrong, you have to challenge it. No matter what the consequences." Maj. Sonnie Bates faces up to five years in a military prison for disobeying an order.