The Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses, Dr. Bernard Rosker, published an info paper entitled "Vaccine Use During the Gulf War" (http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/va/). When Persian Gulf War veterans returned and started reporting symptoms, some people asked if vaccines administered during the Gulf War might have caused the symptoms. Several independent expert panels addressed this and related questions head-on. These panels consisted of Veterans, civilian academic experts, scientists, health-care professionals, and policy specialists. Each of these panels included some of the nation's best scientists, who spent months or even years listening to veterans, reviewing the evidence, and deliberating the issues.
In each case, the independent expert panels found that there was no evidence of any link between any vaccine and any illness common to Gulf War veterans. These reports include:Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses: Final Report, December 1996. Pages of Interest: second page, Executive Summary, plus pages 112-114 of the original document (Chapter 4 in the web version). Institute of Medicine, Health Consequences of Service During the Persian Gulf War:Recommendations for Research & Information Systems, 1996. (http://books.nap.edu/books/0309055369/html/1.html)Pages of Interest: 49-52, 55, 100. National Institutes of Health, Technology Assessment Workshop: The Persian Gulf Experience and Health, 29 April 1994. Defense Science Board Task Force on Persian Gulf War Health Effects, June 1994. (http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/dsbrpt/index.html) See chapter VIII, section E.2. Three specific studies looking into the health of Gulf War veterans and their families were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The postwar hospitalization experience of U.S. veterans of the Persian Gulf war. New England Journal of Medicine 1996; 335:1505-13. This study concluded that "During the two years after the Persian Gulf War, there was no excess of unexplained hospitalization among Americans who remained on active duty after serving in that conflict." The risk of birth defects among children of Persian Gulf war veterans. New England Journal of Medicine 1997; 336:1650-6. The authors concluded that "This analysis found no evidence of an increase in the risk of birth defects among the children of Gulf War veterans." Mortality among U.S. veterans of the Persian Gulf war. New England Journal of Medicine 1996; 335:1498-1504. The authors concluded: "Among veterans of the Persian Gulf War, there was a significantly higher mortality [death] rate than among veterans deployed elsewhere, but most of the increase was due to accidents rather than disease, a finding consistent with patterns of postwar mortality among veterans of previous wars." A DoD-funded British team at King's College, London, reported in the 20 May 00 issue of British Medical Journal that multiple vaccinations given in a theater of war, but not before deployment, were associated with multi-symptom illness, fatigue, psychological distress, health perception, and physical functioning. The analysis was limited to veterans who kept vaccination records.
Exposures other than vaccination were not controlled for, except pesticide use. Anthrax vaccine was not analyzed independently. The lead author was Matthew Hotopf; the research team included Catherine Unwin. The authors recommend that Armed Forces be vaccinated before deployment: "It would be folly to allow Service personnel to be committed to a modern battlefield without all necessary means of protection against endemic infection and biological weapons." The accompanying editorial calls Hotopf's evidence "inconclusive," citing design limitations and contradictory findings.