Anthrax vaccination and the military : A Controversy
Based on the work done by Eric Richer
Emergent BioSolutions, is considered to be one of the leading pharmaceutical companies located within the United States. With various locations held in the state of Maryland, this company states that their main goal is to, "Protect life" (About Us). In saying that, this company has effectively shown to produce and promote better living medical treatments including, vaccines. Emergent BioSolutions is the first and only company to produce an FDA approved vaccine for post-exposure protection against, bacillus anthracis otherwise known as anthrax. With every new treatment, comes the issue of ethical misconduct. Non-Synthetic anthrax spores can be found naturally occurring within the soil. However, recently used as a biological warfare weapon, anthrax is being found in far more unnatural settings. There has been an increasing amount of anthrax infection due to this advancement in biological warfare. Due to this, in 1998, 2.4 million active duty military personnel were ordered to get vaccinated against anthrax using the only FDA vaccine available produced by Emergent BioSolutions. The ethical controversy at hand would be whether or not, the military should allow individuals within the military the choice to choose between getting a vaccination or just making it a requirement.
In ordering military personal to get vaccinated, the overall goal is to obtain a sense of mass safety. Therefore, one may argue that forcing the anthrax vaccine upon military personnel will provide them protection against disease which could only be a good thing. However, with regards to individualism, the sense of “goodness” through this act may be questioned. Individualism, "is the extent to which we value independence and personal uniqueness"(McShane, Von Glinow p.43). With regards to the anthrax vaccine, Emergent BioSolutions was the only company in 1998 to have FDA approval. In saying that, one can only assume the question,why is this the only company to produce anthrax vaccines? The approved vaccine is effective in the protection against skin contacted infected patients. The thing to consider here, is the fact that there are several others portals of entry for infection including, ingestion as well as inhalation. In only providing protection against one way of infection, complete immunity is not guaranteed which is one thing that the public may have overlooked. The anthrax vaccine was also proven to show many adverse and life threatening side effects in many individuals who were vaccinated. Also, the vaccine has not been present long enough to determine any potentially fatal long term effects. With all of these potentially harmful negative qualities of the vaccine, individuals should be given the choice as to whether or not they wish to be vaccinated. In this example, not only was the military seen to be acting ethically irresponsibly through forcing vaccination however, one may begin to question the approval standards of the FDA. Although the effort to protect their soldiers against disease was seen to be noble, military personnel should not have to be vaccinated against a one entry possible infection especially with the known adverse side effects. In saying that, the mandatory vaccination did indeed deny the ability of military personnel individualistic "rights". Unless willing to not participate in military actions, these individuals were not given the ability to promote personal freedom as well as control over their life
With regards to Utilitarianism the idea of implementing happiness in soldiers was not considered however, the overall idea of mass safety was. Although the act of promoting health among military personnel was a noble effort in preventing mass infection, the act of making it mandatory may be seen as ethically controversial. In relating this issue to kantianism theory, the activity of the military may not be seen to be viewed as "rational" simply for the fact that, they "forced" a vaccine that is not viewed to provide full immunity for every affected individual. Therefore, infection could still occur with or without the vaccination. The military did not respect the decision to choose whether or not an individual wants to be vaccinated by making the practice mandatory. In relating virtue theory to the military's actions, one could conclude that the interest of the individuals affected was not honest nor did it promote justice. Unless previously noted prior to joining the military force, individuals were most likely unaware that they must get an anthrax vaccination. Therefore, it was dishonest of the military to force upon regulations stating that getting a vaccination was mandatory. Also, disregarding the idea of refusal, the military did not inflict justice upon the individuals who were to be vaccinated. Overall, it can be concluded that due to the creation of a the anthrax vaccine through BioSolutions, some acts of the military were seen to be ethically controversial.
Based on the work done by Eric Richer
"About Us Page | Emergent." About Us Page | Emergent. Emergent BioSolutions Inc., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2013.
"ANTHRAX VACCINE." National Gulf War Resource Center, n.d. Web. Jan.-Feb. 2013.
SO Source Three
McShane, Steven Lattimore., and Mary Ann Von Glinow. "Chapter Two." Organizational Behavior. New York: Irwin/McGraw-Hill, 2012. N. pag. Print.
Salazar Heather. "Kantian Business Ethics." Western New England University, Springfield. 1 February 2012.
Whittrock, Agela. "Michigan." MLive.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2013.