August 21, 2003 | By
“A half million U.S. soldiers were inoculated for the war with Iraq. Some of them got sick after their vaccinations. Whether the vaccines were to blame remains an open question because, as CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports, the military may not be reporting all the cases properly.
When Army Reservist Rachael Lacy got her military shots last spring, she became deathly ill in a matter of weeks.
The coroner listed “recent smallpox and anthrax vaccination(s)” as contributors to her death.
Yet the military doesn’t mention Lacy under “Noteworthy Adverse Events” in an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association touting its smallpox vaccine success. It claims no deaths.
It also makes no mention of a cluster of unexplained pneumonia cases that were beginning to surface. The military says it’s investigating the pneumonia reports along with federal health officials.
But experts tell CBS News the military should have reported them as possible post-vaccine illnesses.
In the medical world, illnesses and deaths after inoculations – even if they’re not obviously related to the vaccines – are supposed to be reported so experts can look for new side effects nobody knew about. But there are questions as to whether the military is coming clean about all the adverse events.
“You have to report everything,” says Dr. Meryl Nass.
Nass, a civilian doctor, treats soldiers who think vaccines made them ill and who claim the military won’t admit or report it.
Besides Lacy, the military also discounted the death of a National Guardsman who had a heart attack and NBC correspondent David Bloom who died of a blood clot after getting military shots for his war duties. It doesn’t mean vaccines caused the deaths, but they’re supposed to be reported and independently checked for patterns.
Yet, the Defense Department told CBS News it only reports deaths if its own clinicians conclude they’re vaccine-related.
“Nobody who collects adverse event reports does that kind of filtering,” says Nass.
But the military is apparently doing just that, and “that’s why their adverse event rates are preposterously low.”
Four months later, the military is still reviewing Lacy’s death.
But her family says as long as the military controls the data on soldiers who’ve gotten sick after their vaccinations, it may be impossible to ever know the whole story.”