A type of vaccine given to U.S. service members could have exposed some of them to hepatitis C.
When I watch the federal government’s current public service messages on TV urging baby boomers to get tested for hepatitis C, I can’t stop thinking about how my arm, and those of many men next to me, bled as we received jet gun vaccinations during our earliest days in the military.
Powerful air pressure from the jet gun forced a tiny stream of medication through our skin without a needle. Because the shot hurt, many of us flinched. Our skin broke, and as we started bleeding, the blood blew back on the jet gun.
The medic injected the next man without cleaning the gun. So it went when I was at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
The year was 1968, the height of the Vietnam War, and recruits arriving at basic training centers around the United States knew they stood a good chance of ending up in harm’s way.
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