Monday, January 29, 2001

Local sailor jailed for refusing vaccine

The Associated Press

        TAYLOR MILL — A sailor who left for the Navy after attending high school in Kentucky is serving a 60-day sentence for refusing to take the anthrax vaccine, which is required by the military.

        David Ponder, a 1996 graduate of Scott High School, is serving his sentence in a Navy brig in Pensacola, Fla.

        Concern for his health prompted Mr. Ponder, 22, to refuse the vaccine in January 2000, his family said. The treatment is distributed as a guard against bacteria used in biological warfare. But some critics think it may cause neurological and other illnesses.

        “He had heard of ill effects from it, and he just started looking things up on the computer and it seemed like the more he looked, the more he found,” said his mother, Kathy Ponder. “It just scared him to death.”

        Aside from the sentence, Mr. Ponder has been stripped of his petty officer ranking and been knocked down two pay grades.

        He's apparently the second serviceman from Northern Kentucky to refuse the vaccine. The first, Air Force Maj. Sonnie Bates of Independence, was discharged and ordered to pay a fine.


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