The Obama administration is considering injecting American children with an anthrax vaccine in an unprecedented scientific experiment that bioethicists say will unnecessarily endanger the youngsters’ lives and health. The National Biodefense Safety Board (NBSB), will vote todayabout whether the pediatric vaccinations should go forward. A smaller working group comprised of a whopping eight members endorsed the vaccinations in September.

Since 1998, more than a million people have been vaccinated, mostly servicemen stationed overseas. The vaccinations were temporarily halted by court order but continue today.

Following the 2001 Anthrax infections on Capitol Hill, which resulted in 18 infections and five deaths, then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who is also a physician, said:

There are very real and potentially serious side effects from the vaccine and anyone who elects to receive the vaccine needs to be made aware of that. I do not recommend widespread inoculation for people with the vaccine in the Hart Building. There are too many side effects and if there is limited chance of exposure the side effects would far outweigh any potential advantage.

Bioethicist Art Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania said he is opposed to testing. “We may get, sadly, to that point some day,” he said, “but I don’t think we’re there yet.” Dr. Joel Frader of Northwestern University agreed, “It would be difficult to justify testing it on kids simply on the hypothetical possibility that there might be an attack.” Dr. Meryl Nass was more outspoken. “With this, you’re putting children at risk for no clear scientific or medical benefit,” she said.

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