Article Review – Dr Andrew Robertston

In   Issue .

Need JT, Mothershead JL. Strategic National Stockpile  program: implications for  military medicine. Mil Med. 2006 Aug;171(8):698-702. The Strategic National  Stockpile (SNS)  program. managed by the Centers  for Disease Control  and Prevention. Department of Health  and Human Services. is designed  to deliver critical medical  resources to the site of a national emergency. A recent  interagency agreement  between the Department of Defense and the Department of Health  and Human Services indicates that military medical treatment  facility commanders should be actively engaged  in cooperative  planning  with local and state public health officials. so that reception. storage, distribution , and dispensing of SNS materials as a consequence of a n actual event could  occur  without disruption  or delay. This article describes the SNS program and discusses  issues of relevance to medical treatment  facility commanders and Department of Defense medical planners and logisticians.

Comment: The National  Medical  Stockpile  in Australia has been similarly developed by the civilian Department  of Health and Ageing . Further  discussions between  Defence and the jurisdictions on its deployment at a State level are required.

Ackermann  D, Chapman S, Leask J. Media coverage of anthrax vaccination refusal  by Australian  Defence Force  personnel. Vaccine. 2004 Dec 2;23(3):411-7.

BACKGROUND: During February 2003 a number of Australian sailors were returned  home from their employment to the Persian  Gulf after  refusing  anthrax vaccination. This paper examines the media coverage of this episode as a case study in how controversies about vaccine safety escalate.

METHODS: Frame  analysis of articles from major Australian  newspapers (n=83) and transcripts of radio and television  news and current affairs programs (n=22)  to identify  the main supportive and oppositional themes  used in reportage and media debate.

FINDINGS: Initially, the major  news frames were supportive of the vaccine  ref using soldiers, and conveyed a sense of distrust of the government ‘s actions. These initial themes were rapidly  re-framed and new dominant  discourses appeared. First. sailors went from brave whistle blowers to being portrayed as deserters and cowards. Second. proponents shifted from their portrayal as faceless regulators to personal risk takers embodied  in a well-respected Major General having the vaccine. Third, the voluntary nature of the vaccine was emphasised, thus dousing the flames of implied coercion. CONCLUSION: Marked shifts in the representation  of vaccine opponents and proponents possibly contributed to the rapid diminishment  of media interest  in the story.

Comment: For all those involved , this was an interesting episode in mwwging  risk and getting clear messages across.