By Gerry J. Gilmore, AFPS

WASHINGTON 1/8/04 (AFPN) - A federal judge ruled Jan. 7 that the Defense Department could legally administer anthrax immunizations to service personnel.

The department's anthrax vaccine immunization program had been suspended since Dec. 23, after an injunction granted the previous day by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia caused DOD to suspend the program.

Military commanders “should immediately resume the anthrax vaccination program,” wrote Dr. David S.C. Chu, DOD personnel chief, in a department-wide memorandum.

The department “remains convinced that the AVIP complies with all legal requirements, and there is now no judicial restraint on administration of the vaccine,” Dr. Chu stated.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers maintain the anthrax vaccine is a safe and necessary prophylactic for U.S. personnel deployed in the war against terrorism where enemies may employ biological, chemical or nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

Both Rumsfeld and Myers have received the anthrax shots.