DATE=4/4/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=ANTHRAX STUDY (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-260956 BYLINE=JIM RANDLE DATELINE=PENTAGON CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: In a new report, U-S scientists say they don't know if a vaccine against anthrax causes any long term health problems - even though millions of members of the U-S military have been ordered to take the shots, and several hundred have refused, citing health concerns. V-O-A's Jim Randle reports from the Pentagon. TEXT: A panel of doctors and scientists at the U-S Institute of Medicine, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences, says the few available published studies are either flawed or don't address long term health concerns. They say, so far, they found no evidence that the vaccine is unsafe. The researchers say they hope to examine other studies nearing completion soon to draw clearer conclusions. They also suggest long term monitoring of large groups of people who have received the vaccine, and other research. Defense Secretary William Cohen has ordered all two- point-four-million active duty and reserve members of the U-S Military to take the inoculations, and 420- thousand people have gotten one or more doses. Marine Major General Randy West, who heads a Pentagon effort to counter biological warfare, says few vaccines get the kind of long-term scrutiny described by the Institute of Medicine. He points out that the Food and Drug Administration has tested the anthrax vaccine and approved it. Scientists say anthrax is a deadly disease that is easier to turn into a weapon than most other germs, and that a number of hostile nations have programs underway to create just such biological weapons. General West, who led troops in the Persian Gulf War, says Iraq had deadly germ weapons available back then. /// MAJOR GENERAL RANDY WEST ACT /// We uncovered small-unit leader's notebooks that proved to us that they had weaponized anthrax on the battlefield in Iraq and Kuwait, ready to shoot at our forces. They never used it. /// END ACT /// He says if Iraqi forces had used anthrax, he would have lost many `young men and women in battle' because `they were not protected' by vaccine. But the combination of germ threats and the official assurances have not been enough to convince everyone in the U-S military to take the vaccine. Several hundred, dubbed `refusnicks' in the press, say they won't take the shots, and some have been thrown out of the service or punished in other ways. (Signed) NEB/JR/TVM/gm 04-Apr-2000 19:11 PM EDT (04-Apr-2000 2311 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .