Avatar universal

Military Veterans

Are there any Hep C positive veterans out there who received vacinations with the air injector gun while on active duty in the early 1970's or late 1960's?  The veteran population from that time period has a high prevelence of Hepatitis C and some believe that the air injector method of giving vacinations used at that time might be the cause.  I was in the Marine Corps from 70 to 74 and remember being vacinated with this method where we were simply lined up and injected one by one by stepping forward to the injection station.  The air injector gun shot a high pressure pre-measured dose through the skin on the upper arm.  The end of the air gun that touched the arm could not have been sterile as I remember seeing bleeding arms on some after the shot was given.  This has recently been added to the list of risk factors for Hep C.  Comments??
52 Responses
636290 tn?1224186146
I was in the US army in 1975, given vaccinations many times w/air jet guns--both single and combo dose--stood in the same line, injected one by one by stepping forward to the injection station just as you were.  I saw the same trickles of blood dripping down the arms of the people in front of me as well.  Nothing was used to clean the injector between people.  That would have been untimely and not expedient.  I was also given oral surgery with instruments that were not heat sterilized.  That was my second risk factor, and yes, I had hep C and had to undergo treatment.  Have been done for 1 year and 1 month.  Virus is gone, but the effects I am still suffering from treatment are gone.  Where did you get your info about this being added as a risk factor and is the source reliable? as I am trying right now to put in a claim with the government for contracting Hep c.  Drop me a line if it is a reliable source.  If you haven't been checked specifically for it, get checked, as symptoms often don't show up until it's too late.  Good luck to you.
419309 tn?1326503291
My husband served as a US Marine between 1968 and 1970, and he recounts similar vaccination procedures as you described and remembers the air guns well.  And yes, he has HCV.  I've seen estimates that 50% or more of the servicemen who were combat soldiers in Vietnam have HCV.  I've heard the high incidence of infection attributed to the fact that the war was especially close-contact and very bloody, but perhaps there were many other factors...
Sad thing is that the VA denies using Jet guns for vaccines in the 70's.
170041 tn?1219704519
Hepatitis C Vets. Web site for and about Vets with hepc.About a 5 times higher rate than the rest of the population.
233616 tn?1312787196
unfortunately it only takes a virion to transfer, not even a drop...which is what makes all the tatooing going on these days so senseless.
In some countries such as Egypt and Pakistan, school children were all vaccinated with one needle, and the rate in Pakistan is about 75% positive now, not sure what Egypts rate is, but definitely that is one method of contact.

also, those vaccinated against Hepatitis with gamma gobulin were actually infected that way. Ireland has positively traced 100 cases back to a bad batch of that. So when everyone lined up to avoid succoumbing to one case, they were all given a case by "the cure".  

fun stuff huh??  Not.  
As far a the vietnam era goes though, between the wounded triage treatments, (no testing of blood supply beyond typing)  rampant use of heroin, and intimate contact with the infected populace, there's more than one way that Nam era vets could have gotten HCV.

Avatar universal
I was in the military from '63-'67.  If I remember correctly the air-pressure injections had just come in to service. I too remember the lines and the medics merely rubbing off the droplets of blood as they ran down your arm.  I never saw a medic sterlize the gun itself.  You simply was herded through like cattle. Also, if you made a fast turn for some reason you were apt to receive a small tear.  However, I am sure they were perfected to some degree.   Thanks for the flashbacks.......Hawkbill
358466 tn?1226240618
Army 72-74

Remember the injections. Same response as others.

Also remember the time. A lot of blood.

Convinced that's where I got it.
96938 tn?1189799858

"between the wounded triage treatments, (no testing of blood supply beyond typing)  rampant use of heroin, and intimate contact with the infected populace, there's more than one way that Nam era vets could have gotten HCV. "

You got only one out of three right in your comment

568322 tn?1370165440

Transmission methods specific to military service include the lack of standard precautions, dental and medical procedures with improperly sterilized equipment, reusable needles/syringes, JET GUN INJECTIONS, use of multi dose vials and contaminated blood based vaccines, sharing personal care items like razors and combat exposure.

There are now studies that show that jet guns got contaminated with blood and were able to transmit infection....


There are also studies done by the CDC that showed that jetguns got contaminated with Hep B and C.....


Nobody wore gloves and the jetguns were not wiped between recruits as per manyfacturer instructions.  Jet guns were not recalled by the FDA until 1998.

1 in 10 US Veterans are infected with Hep C, a rate 5  times greater than the 1.8% infection rate of the general population.

A study conducted in 1999, by the Veterans Administration involving 26,000 veterans showed that up to 10% of all veterans in the VHA system tested positive for hepatitis C.

Of the total number of persons who were hepatitis C antibody positive, and reported an era of service, 62.7% were noted to be from the Vietnam era. The second most frequent group is listed as post-Vietnam at 18.2%, followed by 4.8% Korean conflict, 4.3% post-Korean conflict, 4.2% from WWII, and 2.7% Persian Gulf era veterans.


Hepatitis C is considered "service connected" but when a claim is submitted, it is up to the person to prove that they got vaccines using a jet gun.

HCVets is fighting to change it to "PRESUMED service connected", so that Hep C will be automatically considered service related and Vets won't have to prove it.  

HCVets.com has a certified VA officer who can help you submit your claim to the VA and they have all the info on jet guns to help you back up your claim.
568322 tn?1370165440

"rampant use of heroin, and intimate contact with the infected populace"

I'm used to you making stupid claims and never backing up anything you say, but this one takes the cake.  

Do you realize that Vets got infected by jetgun vaccines DURING BOOT CAMP and not by "rampant use of heroin" as the VA would like us to believe?

Did you know that during World War II, our government used an unlicensed yellow fever vaccine that was contaminated with Hepatitis B and a study done later by the VA
showed that 330,000 of our soldiers had been infected?


And nobody told those soldiers....but people like YOU accused them of drug use!

Did you know that the FDA, the medical director from the VA and the WHO have all admitted that jet guns got contaminated by blood and Hep C transmission was possible?

IN BOOT CAMP!!!!  And not only were they given vaccines but also immune globulin with reusable syringes as part of experiments!

So how dare you say it was from "rampant use of heroin and intimate contact" when obviously you know nothing about Veterans.

Go to HCVets and tell them I sent you.  They'll be happy to educate you.
96938 tn?1189799858
Those were the two I was referring to, but maybe for slightly different reasons.  Contray to popular belief, the soldiers in Vietnam did not sit around and shoot up heroin when we were shooting other stuff.  The purity of the herion did not allow IV use, it was smoked or snorted.  Even snorting would have taken your head off. Not to say there wasn't widespread use, just that heroin methods were not condusive to hcv.  As to the the 'intimate contact', those incidents were no more risky than anywhere else in the world.  I'd be really irritated if it wasn't for the fact that I also appreciate the stroll down memory lane.
626749 tn?1256515702
Yup, Marine, remember the air jet injections and blood drops on my arm, like it was yesterday.

Hey FlGuy...1 out of 3 aint that bad....lmao,

Avatar universal
Thank you all for your service to our country!  I am sorry that Hep C is yet another issue that plagues our heros.

One of my sons returned home from his 2nd tour in Iraq this summer.  During his medical out-processing, he told the doctors that he had a painful lump in his testicle ever since he was involved in an explosion back in January.  Military doc sent him for an ultrasound and then told him he was fine and signed off on him.  He sent him home and told him to take pain pills for the pain and sleeping pills for his insomnia and not to worry about the lump.  My son was wise enough to see his civilian doc the day after his arrival home who sent him emergently to a Urologist.  The Urologist took one look at the ultrasound that was done by the military and told him he had cancer and he had surgical removal the following day and follow up radiation treatments.

During all this treatment, the insurance was a nightmare because he had been out-processed by the military.  Denial, denial, denial everywhere.  It took months of calls, e-mails, faxes, etc. to get him covered as he should have been.  In some ways, the military has improved so very much and, in others, it's just as raw as it was many years ago.
Avatar universal
To Meakea,

264121 tn?1313029456
I'm sorry about your son and hope he will be fine after the radiation.  The treatment of vets from all wars is just shameful.  They serve our country and then get treated as second class citizens if they have health issues when they come back, even when those are combat related health issues and/or injuries from battle.  The quality of physicians in military hospitals is frequently also dismal.  Pretty disgusting and just thinking about it makes me angry.  34 years ago when my dad was a Navy pilot at the end of Vietnam he and my mother opted to use a civilian obgyn and pay out of pocket when my brother was born.  That's how bad many of the Navy docs were rumored to be at that time, that they made such a decision.
Avatar universal
I am a v/n vet and service connected 20% for my hep c.  I remember my buddy infront of me in line for our airgun shot flinched and tore a hole in his shoulder.  Everyone is right, they never steralized the gun between shots.  VA is picking up my t/x tab, and am very pleased with the team of Dr's I am working with. Any questions brandej, feel free to contact me with a personal note.
Avatar universal
Air Force 1978 -1998.  I too think this was my only risk was standing in the ship line (Other than a lot of dental work I had ... maybe)
Avatar universal
can hep c antibodies be claimed as ser connected
Avatar universal
i was in the army at 17 in 1979-1983 I remember the air guns at Ft Jackson south carolina, we were lined up like cattle getting that shot one after the other no one was stereilizing nothing, what is the VA doing for vets in regards to this, I know I can use some assistance with future meds, i am going to start TX in april, geno 1a F2 level 2 bx
Avatar universal
My husband got infected by air-jet injection in the NAVY boot camp in the early 80s. He has genotype 1 virus.
338734 tn?1377160168
I thought I posted on this thread, but either my comments were deleted or else it was a different, similar thread.

I have to say that I did not find IV drug use "rampant" by any stretch of the imagination where I served from 72 to 74. The reports from VietNam era vets with no other risk factors for HCV, plus the obviously sloppy methods in vaccination, plus the known contamination of the gamma globulin injections made from the general blood supply (which would have been certainly contaminated since they had no clue about HCV much less a detection method), raises a very likely probability of contamination during Military service in that era.

The 60's & 70's "drug craze" just doesn't come close to explaining the ten-fold increased rates of infection among Viet Nam era vets and others since. Too bad it is so inconvenient (expensive) for the Military to own up to the responsibility.

Good luck to you and thanks for serving.
Avatar universal
I was in the army 1971-1974 and i remember standing in line at Ft Lewis getting injection after injection and I asked if they ever changed needles and they told me only when it starts tearing the skin and people start to bleed. I also had my wisdom teeth pulled with the same instruments as the person in front of me had used on him and the person behind me. I blame the Army for my Hep.C I don't even have a tatoo on my body to this day.
Avatar universal
My brother joined the Navy in 1973 and was diagnosed with Hep C in 1990. He remembers the air immunizer and the bleeding arms in front of him at boot camp. He has never been an IV drug user nor is he in any other high-risk group. He is convinced that he got Hep C in boot camp, yet the VA recently turned him down for benefits, and he was told that most people who apply for VA benefits to cover HepC are also turned down. It seems clear that the VA doesn't want to have to pay for treatment. Are there any vets groups pursuing a class-action suit, or any other mass action to force the VA to own up to the problem?
Avatar universal
Went to Ft. Leonardwood for boot camp in April of 1970.  During all the shots, both air gun and needle I got a "tear" in my arm from one of the guns.  Blood was running down everyone's arms, not just a few, so blood contamination was an absolute, not just a possibility.  During this time many of the new troops were guys who took military service over prison time so we got some real "winners" in our outfit.  Wouldn't be a bit surprised if many of these guys were needle users prior to coming into the service.  I now have a serious neural condition in my feet and legs with the pain unbearable at times.  I'm not diabetic so no causal connection there.  My sister had polio when she was five and I was three.  They held me down at the hospital for the gamma globulin shots so I don't know what the cause of the neural pain is all about.  Went to over ten "specialists" about ten years ago and none of them could come up with a diagnosis.  They just said it was something I would have to "live with".  If anyone has an opinion on this please let me know.  BTW, I was a medic also.
1815939 tn?1377991799
If it was me, I would get tested for Hepatitis C.

You have a history of possible exposure via the gamma glob shot and also the air gun. Plus, as a medic, you were most likely exposed to a lot of blood.

Hep C can cause many extrahepatic manifestations. Peripheral Neuropathy is one of them. I am not saying that you have Hep C or that you have Peripheral Neuropathy but, if it was me, I would get tested for Hep C. If the test is negative, fine. If it is positive, then you can get treated for the Hep C.


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