By memorandum dated March 30, 1999, the Under Secretary of Defense made it mandatory for all military personnel and Department of Defense emergency essential civilian employees and contractor personnel assigned, deployed or on temporary duty in high threat areas and contiguous waters of Southwest Asia for one day or more, to be vaccinated against anthrax. Countries included are Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Oman, United Arab Emerates (UAE), YEMEN, Israel and the Korean Peninsula.
NOTE: By memorandum dated 17 July 2000, DOD announced a policy change in the scope and implementation of Anthrax immunizations. Due to a delay in the availability of vaccine supplies approved by the FDA, a temporary slowdown of the Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program is necessary. Revised policy mandates continued immunization for those assigned or deployed in the high threat areas of Southwest Asia and Korea for at least 30 days, but defers other immunizations until an increase in approved supplies allow resumption of the 1999 program.
In those situations where existing EECs refuse to be vaccinated, Army policy requires that management first consider taking a non-adverse action, such as a reassignment to a non-EEC position; identification of an alternate employee who is willing to be immunized and serve as an EEC; curtailment of tour, etc. If none of these are possible, the EEC could be subject to adverse actions, up to and including, removal from the federal service for failure to meet a condition of employment. This is very similar to the position that Army has taken on applying drug testing and the Lautenberg Amendment to employees already in covered positions.
Future job announcements for new EEC recruitment actions in high threat areas should specifically identify that the anthrax vaccination is a condition of employment of the position. Newly hired EECs should also be required to acknowledge and accept this requirement in writing prior to entry on duty. This requirement is currently being incorporated in the new version of Army Regulation 690-11, Planning For and Management of Civilian Personnel in Support of Military Contingency Operations.
The anthrax vaccine has only been tested on adults, 18-65 years of age. Personnel 17 years of age or younger and those over the age of 65 are excluded from the vaccination program. Also excluded are individuals with acute respiratory disease or active infection, persons with depressed immune response, and pregnant women. DoD (Surgeon Generalís Office) is reviewing and developing new guidance that is to be published soon. Until new guidance is published, each situation must be reviewed on a case by case basis. To determine the best course of action for those over age 65, assuming that all of the other requirements of the EEC position are met, each commander must evaluate and determine the risk to the individual concerned of exposure to anthrax in taking appropriate action. There is no plan to automatically exclude such personnel from consideration for or retention in EEC positions.