Is The Anxthrax Vaccine Safe?

The Pentagon has ordered all 2.4 million members of the American military to take the anthrax vaccine. Defense officials say the vaccine is needed. But as CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports, the only American source of anthrax vaccine is in danger of drying up.

According to Congressional investigators, BioPort, the only lab in the country that makes the anthrax vaccine, is five months behind schedule and faces a serious cash-flow problem that could put it out of business.

"There is substantial doubt that BioPort will be able to continue performing its contracts and that the company needs additional cash to meet ongoing expenses and debt commitments," said Louis J. Rodrigues of the General Accounting Office.

A CBS News investigation found the Food and Drug Administration threatened to shut the lab down in 1997 for repeated violations that could affect vaccine quality. BioPort officials admit they have problems.

BioPortÂ's chief operating officer, Dr. Robert Myers said "At the end of the day, we are meeting the schedule for the required doses for anthrax vaccine, to support the anthrax vaccine immunization program as part of overall force protection."

The Pentagon says that protection is necessary to combat the threat of biological warfare.

BioPort's chief exective officer, Fuad El-Hibri, says thereÂ's an easy way to save the company and the militaryÂ's vaccination program – triple the price of the vaccine.

"BioPort believes that a fair and equitable adjustment to the contract can be achieved within the time frame needed," he says.

The idea of a price hike is just the latest controversy surrounding the vaccine. Some soldiers have been court-martialed for refusing the shots. Others, who have taken the vaccine, say it made them sick.

Under perceived threats from the U.S. military to keep quiet about negative reactions to the anthrax vaccine, dozens of servicemen have come forward with reports of prolonged illness after receiving the shots.

Just hours after one man followed orders to take the vaccine two months ago, his heart rate began to fluctuate wildly.

"I was shaking. I was very cold. So they wrapped me in a blanket and took me down to the hospital," says the soldier, who wants his identity protected because he fears that speaking out will hurt his military career.

He says headaches, dizziness and tingling sensations in his arms and legs have continued since the episode.

"You wonder if your career is over, is life over as you know it?" he says.

He also wants to know what really happened to him on the day he got the anthrax shot.