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1199040 tn?1265239024

Hep C caused by military air-injected immunizations

I want to know if anyone knows of persons that may have had air-injected immunizations while i the military (vietnam era)? They line up one by one and get hit with the same air-injected gun, everyone had blood running down their arm. I firmly believe that's where I first came in contact with the virus but it could be a number of other things too.
156 Responses
Avatar universal
Hi and welcome to the forum.

My husband is one of the people you are talking about. But he is not Vietnam vet. He was infected in 1983, on the first day of NAVY basic training. Everything just like you describe: bunch of people immunized with the same air jet device, blood going down their arms... He never used drugs, never had transfusions, tattoos, or even major surgeries. So after wondering for a long time where he could have been infected, he finally remembered that fateful day. Before he retired from the military, they offered him hepatitis C test, but he declined, because he considered himself low risk. I am almost glad that he didn't take it, because our life was much nicer when we didn't know about this disease. He got diagnosed 5 years ago by the blood test administered by the life insurance company.
Avatar universal
I did.  Vets make up a very big % of Hep C patients.  And most of us are from the Vietnam Era.  
Avatar universal
That doesn't surprise me at all. Men are very sensitive to pain. And most of them hate needles/sticking devices of any kind.

Vernon told me that a lot of people flinched that day. There was a lot of blood.

I also read that even if the person doesn't flinch at all, small amount of blood still gets into device and can infect the next person in line. No matter the device, it is just wrong to use one device for a bunch of people. But nobody thought about it back then.

I am originally from Russia, and in late 80s we still had reusable needles, syringes, even IV systems. How can you sterilize the needle? It is impossible. Looking back at all this just horrifies me. There was a lot of hepatitis B and, probably C, which was called non A non B.  Fortunately, I didn't get any shots back then, not even immunizations, because my mom refused. I did get all childhood infections, but escaped hepatitis.  
142841 tn?1201978652
Yep...Navy bootcamp, NS Great Lakes, Illinois in April 1976.
Avatar universal
I did not wince from the pain.  but the guys giving us the shots did not take the time to place the guns on the arms and make sure they were set.  150 new recruits lined up, air guns on both side, they got all of us through in less than 5 minutes.  I ended up with cuts on both arms from them sliding the guns accross my arms and the pressure from the air sliced them.  The guy in front and the guy in back were both bleeding as well.  

You sir may find that school girls did not flinch as much as service men, but I ben none of them had cuts accross their arms either.  

Even the VA has not admitted that there is credence to the airgun and hep C argument.  Vets can now get treatment becuase of this.  

And it is not Viet Nam vets it is Vietnam Era vets...which incompasses the period that the guns were used.
Avatar universal
Here are some articles on the air/jet guns:





Is this enough, I can get more.

And by the way, I do think you are attacking vets.  I have personally had three friend die from liver failure, none of them ever used drugs, got tatoos, etc.  The only thing they had in common was that all three were in the armed forces between 1967 and 1975.  How dare you equate soldiers willing to fight and die for their country as being weaker than school girls.  Do your own reasearch and go out and talk to vets.
96938 tn?1189803458
"How come I don't hear vets talking about the rampant drug use in VN much of it IVDU?"

Because there wasn't much IVDU there.  Those practioners did not need to shoot the stuff.  The purity made it perfectly effective by snorting or smoking.  In fact, much less snorting than smoking.
Avatar universal
I'm sure that you must realize that this is a hot button for many people.  Many vets were infected using a process which is a vector for transmission.  Vets have been fighting for recognition that air gun injection was indeed a factor.  The government has not been willing to own up to their responsibility.  I was reading a HCV pamphlet distributed by the VA in.....2005, or thereabouts and it still did not list air gun injection as one of the risk factors.  It seems to many Vets that the VA prefers to allege that drug use was the cause.  It also appeared to some that it was preferable to not diagnose this group, to then increase the stigma attached to the infection as a drug abuse issue.  I think that the US government could have done a better job of the way it was handled and THAT it may have cost people their lives.

I appreciated the insight into how having an already infected blood supply in Viet Nam further increased the chances of blood to blood contact in the field.  Given the tainted supply and the amount of blood shed in battle one might also conclude that there may not have been that much IVDU since that method of transmission is very efficient.

Interesting point about the flinching.  I would also float out the possibility that instead of attributing the blame to the person receiving the shot that the people administering the shot could also have been the issue.

     One has to wonder it the soldiers were given the same care as the grade school children as to whether the administration would have produced less transmission.  I have the general impression that the soldiers may have gotten been subjected to greater haste, less care and administered by perhaps less trained individuals or on in accordance with correct administration procedure.
     Hell, if they even knew what the procedure was they probably opted to ignore it opting instead for *production*. You see, it could have been the- get it done, pain is good attitude, "soldier up" attitude that contributed to the infection, especially when administered by cowboys and not trained RN's.  ; )

I wonder if you can compare the two different settings and conclude that the transmission rate would be the same?  Was there blood dripping from the guns at the grade schools?  Maybe the shots were administered by trained professionals and according to procedure.  Even today there are nocosomial transmission issues where procedure is not followed, whether through intention or ignorance.

Avatar universal
My husband never ever used drugs. And what I posted comes from his recollection of events. I hope you don't imply that he is just making this up.  It would be the same as saying that people who experience long term sides from interferon also just make it up.

We can not and do not want to get anything from the military for infecting Vernon. It is impossible to prove. This day is long gone.  It is enough for us to know and to understand how and when it happened. We have good insurance that military provides, and we are happy with that.

I don't know why there are less Vietnam era women vets that are infected, but I am sure that they exist. Maybe the reason is that there was much less women serving then men. Or maybe some of them still go undiagnosed, because it is well known that in women hepatitis C is not as aggressive as in men. But the reality is that there are a lot of infected vets. The proportion is much higher than in general population.
Avatar universal
I know many guys who contracted HCV during their Vietnam Era service.  None of them used IV drugs.  These guys are decorated combat veterans.  What did YOU do in the war?
96938 tn?1189803458
Although this is not necessarily germane to the discussion, but to set the visual correctly.  The air/jet vaccinations took place in the US.  Generally speaking, the settings were shortly after induction and took place at boot camps, basic training depots and the like.  There was no need for vaccination while 'in-country' since the process was to be adequately vaccinated before departure.
To possibly connect, or disconnect, some dots...It does not make sense that Viet Vets were the infecting source through the air/jets. You see, the Vets would not be in the innoculation line with the newly-minted recruits.  The Vets were already at the other end of the conveyer belt.  Therefore, if Hep-C was introduced in the long olive line it probably traveled in from the street with the recruits.
Avatar universal
You are correct.  And it was the inability of the military to have the guns used correctly by the draftees that were doing the inoculations.  Again, when I went through the line it was one after another, then the next group.  I say over 150 men innoculated and not once was a gun cleaned or wiped down.  Also, since they went so fast, on mine they pulled the trigger befroe it was completely set and then they moved it....nice little cut on my arm...how do I remember that, I had the army sent me my medical records when I was trying to get help withmy hep c.
163305 tn?1333672171
My husband got it that way.  He thinks he gave it to me but who knows? He's one of those who aren't affected by the disease and only got tested when I was diagnosed.
I know of a couple of other guys who got it that way too. Once has since died from the disease.

Does anyone think this is the reason  HCVis kept quiet, that they try to say its just a druggie disease?
Just think about how much money it would cost the Vets if they had to pay for this like they did for agent orange.
Avatar universal
Hi Bronzestar,

Welcome and I hope you can sort out your situation and figure out your best next move. Are you thinking about treating very soon or waiting for what looks like a better combo of drugs to eradicate the virus? This new protocol is currently in trials but may emerge very soon as the new protocol. It's worth your while to learn as much as you can about your options.

You (Bronzestar) say:  "I firmly believe that's where I first came in contact with the virus but it could be a number of other things too."

That sums up pretty well what people say when they don't know for sure how they got HCV. I myself say I firmly believe I got it through the doctor or dentist because I can't think how else I got it. Did I really?  I'd like to know but no, I don't know and never will.

I also have a firm belief that most people probably don't know for sure.  

Looking at your profile picture, I see a very handsome dude and a gorgeously large tatoo. Maybe the tatoo played a role, maybe not. Maybe you had surgery as a kid, maybe you went to the dentist, maybe you played 'blood brothers', maybe, maybe, gosh, so many maybes. And, as Mr. Liver said, transmission could have taken place via airguns. Maybe...

Vietnam, by the way, has the highest rate of HCV in the world, surpassing Egypt. (Egypt's high rate was ironically caused by a 'modern' mass immunization program that failed to use appropriate delivery equipment.)  And although I don't consider sex a high risk factor for transmission, there's a notable exception, and that's for very rough sex, for example, rape. With Vietnam having such a remarkably high incidence of HCV and with reports of rape during the war, that might be another possibility in the closet. Maybe....

The thing is to move forward and ask yourself if you're ready to tackle this dam-ned virus.  I think the VA provides opportunities to treat (could be wrong but there are people here who could point you in the right direction).

Best of luck. You can do this. Heck, I did.

Avatar universal
"This new protocol is currently in trials " s/b, "This new combo is currently in trials."
Avatar universal
Read this:

Avatar universal
I remember years ago a member in a forum told a small group of us that genotype 1's could not be cured of HCV.  They asked if we knew any and at that moment...... none of us did know of a member geno 1 who had an SVR.  It appeared that the assertion could be correct, but none of us believed it to be true.  Hahah; it wasn't.

In this case look at the number of actual women in the Viet Nam forces;
"Army, Navy and Air Force Nurses and Medical Specialists numbered over six thousand.

I don't know the actual number and I don't know what they would include if it were enlarged to be the "Viet Nam Era".  
....But.....if that number were correct and one assumed a 10% infection rate....that would leave a mere 600 female vets in our pool to make assumptions about.

One might correctly argue that this pool was not involved in active combat and might have reduced risk.  
One might also wonder; were they in the same air gun lines as the other vets?  Given the numbers involved I don't even know if airguns were used on women.  Even if they were it would seem unlikely that it was in the same mass production innoculations.  But once again; I don't know.

I'm not sure that you have made a strong case that the infections were caused by flinching.  I have wondered if line pressure could also do it.  A bad regulator or more *zeal* could account for that.  

Probably everyone agrees that there was drug use in Viet Nam.  If it were truly rampant the drug use of either IV or by snorting vectors might leave us with higher infection rates.  It also does not answer the question about all the people who deny drug use of how they acquired the virus.  I often think that the notion of IV drug use gets "sold" to obfuscate the possibility of nocosomail infection, such as in this case air gun injection.  I believe that about 30% of us with HCv don't know how they got it.  Surely that percentage may also be reflected in the veteran population.

By the way, as Portann also touched on HCV can be transmitted though acts of violence, such as in hand to hand combat or even in contact sports.  Surely this must have also occurred in Viet Nam amoungst Vets, but perhaps less so with women veterans.

I'm not running down the people who administered the vaccines.  i wasn't there in either case; the schools or in Nam.  What I wrote was that if protocols were not followed the chance of infection would likely rise.  Yes, actual RN's or doctors with years of training and practice might do a better job than was seen in the military.

If you read some of those links you'll find that the protocols in using the airguns were far less existent in the 70's and were not adhered to especially in the military.  Adults of military age may have very good recollection about the event whereas I wonder how many first graders even remember the day.  Perhaps the fact that the protocols were revised and improved and the infection rate dropped could be seen as proof that it was not safe but when certain protocols ARE followed it is far more safe. ; )  It's possible.

I think at the heart of this thread and the upset is that Vets resent being forgotten, feel that they are not supported for their sacrifice, and quite often even blamed for acquiring the infection.  Who wouldn't be pi$$ed?


Avatar universal
The term is "nonsocomial infection" and it means "hospital acquired infection". Air-gun acquired infection would not be considered nonsocomial unless the procedure was carried out in a hospital. It's a nice term but it applicability is restricted to hospital acquired infections.
Avatar universal
Nosocomial infections are infections which are a result of treatment in a hospital or a healthcare service unit, but not secondary to the patient's original condition. Infections are considered nosocomial if they first appear 48 hours or more after hospital admission or within 30 days after discharge. Nosocomial comes from the Greek word nosokomeion (νοσοκομείον) meaning hospital (nosos = disease, komeo = to take care of). This type of infection is also known as a hospital-acquired infection (or more generically healthcare-associated infection)."

I see that one might even have trouble proving HCV is nosocomial given the time constraints, but it gets used.  (LOL; this is the correct spelling; in my haste earlier I didn't spell check, but I got in all the right letters.  ; )  )

I used the term a few times but particularly here;
"I often think that the notion of IV drug use gets "sold" to obfuscate the possibility of nocosomail infection, such as in this case air gun injection.  I believe that about 30% of us with HCv don't know how they got it.  Surely that percentage may also be reflected in the veteran population."

My point is that whether the infection occurred via airgun injection, through transfusions, or any pathway that in any way detracts from our health care system it isn't always welcomed.  I feel as though the virus has been given a stigma and that stigma in part is to cover for poor practices, protocols or ignorance in the state of health care when it occurred.  It's easy to blame the recipient for their disease, much harder to accept some responsibility.  The fact that the VA argued so strenuously and for so long that air gun use was not a vector of transmission speaks in part to what I am talking about.

I think it's another reason this thread has a bit of emotion in it.

Avatar universal
It was incorrect usage and spelling willy and the longest post in the world will not alter that fact.
We strive for accuracy here - remember?
96938 tn?1189803458
Is it my imagination or have some comments been deleted from this thread?
Avatar universal
Not sure how I got it but I also braved the "gauntlet" in basic, Jan 1971 jerry
Avatar universal
I keep coming back to the word spelled like this;

You wrote;
nonsocomial, but I can't find that used even when I copy it into a browser.

I think you may be splitting infinitives.  We would use the term it if the action took place in a hospital but not if the same action took place in a health care service unit?  

Either way, my use was not limited to air gun infection but any other sources of medically transmitted HCV such as might take place in hospitals.

If one accepted the generic definition of "(or more generically healthcare-associated infection)" then that might also include the air gun injections or healthcare which was provided while in the armed services.

Avatar universal
FlGuy, no... it's not your imagination.  A few posts were reported and they were removed because they were taking the discussion away from the original topic and into some pretty negative, uncivil territory.  I appreciate the way you folks brought things back to the topic at hand.  

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