ARLINGTON, Va. — Sailors in Japan are again required to get mandatory anthrax vaccinations, the Navy has announced.

Sailors who previously received anthrax vaccine can elect to continue “to complete their initial series and/or receive their annual booster,” according to an e-mailed response to questions from the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

In a recent NAVADMIN (Navy Administrative Message), the Navy announced the following sailors and Marines will also have to get the anthrax shots: “U.S. Pacific Command forward deployed naval forces and III Marine Expeditionary Force assigned or designated as early deployers [up to 20 days after the start of the flow of forces] to the Korean peninsula.”

The Navy said the move would affect sailors on ships forward-deployed to Japan including:

The aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, with a crew of 3,000 sailors and an additional 2,000 air crew.The amphibious assault ship USS Essex, with a crew of 950 and the capacity to hold 1,073 troopsThe cruiser USS Shiloh, with a crew of 387.The destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur, with a crew of 303.The move would not affect most sailors in Guam, said Navy spokeswoman Lt. Ligia Cohen.

“The sailors in Guam are not considered forward deployed except a few units with special missions,” Cohen said in a Thursday e-mail to Stars and Stripes.

The Marine Corps would not say Thursday how many Marines on Okinawa would have to get the anthrax regimen.

Asked if all III MEF Marines would be required to get vaccinated for anthrax, a Corps official would only say the Corps plans to issue specific guidelines on the vaccination program in an upcoming Marine Administrative Message.

Last year, the Defense Department made anthrax vaccinations mandatory again for U.S. troops and some department civilians serving in the U.S. Central Command theater of operations and on the Korean peninsula.

The Defense Department began vaccinating troops against anthrax in 1998, but a federal judge stopped the program in 2004 after finding the Food and Drug Administration made mistakes in determining that the vaccine was safe.

The judge allowed the Defense Department to administer the vaccinations on a voluntary basis beginning in 2005, but when only half of servicemembers decided to get vaccinated, the Defense Department made the vaccinations mandatory again for troops heading to the CENTCOM area of operations and Korea.

Adults who accompany troops and contractors to those regions can still receive the vaccinations on a voluntary basis, the NAVADMIN says.

The Navy can compel family members to get vaccinated in case of emergencies, according to BUMED.

“Under certain public health provisions and emergencies, the Navy can require individuals to receive a vaccine as a condition of remaining on a Navy installation or being allowed to enter or leave a Navy installation,” according to BUMED.

Pregnant women will only receive the vaccine in “unusual circumstances if the potential benefits of the vaccination outweigh the potential risks to the fetus,” the NAVADMIN says.

The NAVADMIN recommends asking women if they are pregnant or if there is a chance they could become pregnant during the next month before administering the shot. The query is a standard question posed to female servicemembers and civilians before they are vaccinated, not a way of asking if women are sexually active, according to BUMED.

“The question is necessary to inform women and providers of the possibility of becoming pregnant,” the BUMED statement says. “This offers a higher level of protection to the female and a potential fetus.”

For more information, see NAVADMIN 068/07 at:

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