Discussion:
Vaccinations - the 1960s & 70s way! jet injectors
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a425couple
2021-02-04 16:37:37 UTC
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https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/jet-injectors/2021/02/02/23f3b8b0-6578-11eb-886d-5264d4ceb46d_story.html?fbclid=IwAR20kXKPWFHAKYJ58rsazyOUjfXem6iB3mc0vUByWvfYfbZ8SpFkRUCVohg


No needle, but the damage was done: Here’s why jet injectors fell from favor

A patient receives a typhus vaccination from a jet injector at Fort
Gordon, Ga., in 1959. The military embraced the needle-free technique of
delivering vaccines. Concerns about passing along bloodborne pathogens
curtailed the use of multi-use injectors in the 1990s.

A patient receives a typhus vaccination from a jet injector at Fort
Gordon, Ga., in 1959. The military embraced the needle-free technique of
delivering vaccines. Concerns about passing along bloodborne pathogens
curtailed the use of multi-use injectors in the 1990s. (Otis Historical
Archives/National Museum of Health and Medicine)

By
John Kelly
Columnist
Feb. 2, 2021 at 2:15 p.m. PST
Nostalgia is a funny thing. One definition is “wistful affection for the
past.” But sometimes it seems to mean, “relief after surviving something
unpleasant.”

Such is the case with the subject of my Tuesday column: the jet
injector. Millions of Americans — especially those who served in the
military — remember their encounters with the medical device. They don’t
necessarily remember them fondly, but they do feel camaraderie with
their literal comrades in arms.

The devices used compressed air to deliver vaccines, forcing the liquid
through the skin without a needle. The District’s George Pettie
remembers how fast they were.

Wrote George: “Line up front to rear, shirts off. Medics on both sides,
‘shot guns’ in hand. Down the row — ZIT! ZIT! ZIT! ZIT! — two or three
in each arm in quick succession. Neither painless nor painful — about
the same as the needle. It was 1966. I was 19. U.S. Army.”

That was the same year Jim Galligan was in a Navy boot camp. “As was
common in boot camp, dark rumors abounded about everything,” wrote Jim,
who lives in Alexandria.

One rumor was that the 10-week boot camp would be cut short because the
United States was on the verge of war with China.

“Now that I think of it, boot camp rumors weren’t unlike sitting around
a campfire as a kid listening to scary stories,” wrote Jim. “Anyway, the
‘injection’ rumor was that some guy — always in another company —
flinched just when the medic was giving him the injection and the air
gun ripped a big gash across his arm and required stitches.”

It wasn’t only soldiers who encountered the jet injector. In May 1963,
Betsy Thomas Amin-Arsala was a sophomore at Mount Holyoke College and
preparing to spend the summer in Israel for an archaeological program.
She needed a yellow fever shot, but no area doctors had access to the
vaccine.

“I had to get special permission to go to Westover Air Force base to
find it,” wrote Betsy, who lives in the District. “And there I had to
stand in line with hundreds of smiling and jeering GIs, stick out my arm
and be injected by what looked and sounded to me like a gun. Now I know
it was the jet injector!”

Terrence H. Scout was shot in the arm several times as a recruit in the
1960s at “Fort Lost-in-the-Woods, Misery,” a.k.a. Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

“I was fascinated by the tool; wrote home about it and was sure it was
the future,” wrote Terrence, who lives in Purcellville, Va. “Alas, I
never saw or heard of it again until your column in today’s Post. Why?”

There are several reasons. One is that the shots required patients to
stay still as the end of the gun was applied and the trigger was pulled.
The vaccine came out at 1,200 psi and if a person flinched — and the
nozzle wasn’t butted up straight against the arm — the powerful stream
of liquid could tear the skin.

Nearly every service member who wrote to me mentioned seeing someone
who, after the shot, was left with blood streaming down his arm. This
did not engender confidence in the people still waiting in line.

But the real problem was infection. In their haste, some operators did
not clean the business end of the gun sufficiently between shots. And
even when the nozzle was sanitized, pathogens could remain inside the
mechanism. An outbreak of hepatitis B at a weight loss clinic in the
1980s was traced to jet injectors. U.S. veterans who developed hepatitis
B or hepatitis C at the time were able to successfully file for benefits
from the former Veterans Administration.

Jet injectors were used around the world, not just by the military but
in developing countries to inoculate against diseases such as cholera,
typhoid and smallpox.

What they lacked in finesse they made up in volume. But the risks of
bloodborne infection meant that the use of traditional jet injectors by
the U.S. military ceased in the 1990s.

Today’s jet injectors are single-use devices. Though they are not
approved by the Food and Drug Administration to deliver a coronavirus
vaccine, they do deliver flu vaccines. Some don’t deliver a vaccine at
all. The J-Tip needle-free injection system uses CO2 to spray liquid
anesthesia through the skin. It’s designed to numb tissue in preparation
for procedures that require a needle.

Tom Sneeringer of the District got a kick out of one detail in Tuesday’s
column: how the commanding officer of some malingerers at Army basic
training ordered them to “fall out for plague shots,” forcing them to
endure seven jet injector shots in each arm.

Wrote Tom: “I so wish I still had kids in the house, especially kids who
act up a lot. ‘Fall out for plague shots’ would have been an extremely
handy disciplinary warning.”

Glenn Easton of Chevy Chase, Md., doesn’t pine for the return of the jet
injector, but he does fondly recall the little polio vaccine sugar cubes
he got as a child. Wrote Glenn: “Forget the air-compressed vaccine and
invent an easy and tasty vaccine.”

Glenn, don’t you know that sugar’s bad for you?

Twitter: @johnkelly

For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/john-kelly

138 Comments
Headshot of John Kelly
John Kelly
John Kelly writes John Kelly's Washington, a daily look at Washington's
less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989
as deputy editor in the Weekend section.Follow
Jim Wilkins
2021-02-04 18:38:37 UTC
Permalink
"a425couple" wrote in message news:***@news4.newsguy.com...
...
Nearly every service member who wrote to me mentioned seeing someone
who, after the shot, was left with blood streaming down his arm. This
did not engender confidence in the people still waiting in line.
...
-----------------------------------------
Oh yeah. The gun had multiple jets and the guy who flinched looked like a
tiger had clawed his arm.
Byker
2021-02-04 20:29:48 UTC
Permalink
...
Nearly every service member who wrote to me mentioned seeing someone who,
after the shot, was left with blood streaming down his arm. This did not
engender confidence in the people still waiting in line.
...
-----------------------------------------
Oh yeah. The gun had multiple jets and the guy who flinched looked like a
tiger had clawed his arm.
Those things would tear your arm open if you didn't hold still. I'd heard
about grown men fainting when they got shots, and in my USAF basic training
flight there were several troops who just collapsed when the medic pulled
the trigger...
a425couple
2021-02-05 15:34:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by Byker
...
Nearly every service member who wrote to me mentioned seeing someone who,
after the shot, was left with blood streaming down his arm. This did not
engender confidence in the people still waiting in line.
...
-----------------------------------------
Oh yeah. The gun had multiple jets and the guy who flinched looked like a
tiger had clawed his arm.
Those things would tear your arm open if you didn't hold still. I'd heard
about grown men fainting when they got shots, and in my USAF basic training
flight there were several troops who just collapsed when the medic pulled
the trigger...
There was a big guy, trying to act all total
Mac Marine up several ahead of me in line.
Talking all tough. He fainted. Plop.

I'll admit, I always just look the other
way and think different thoughts, and
I've never had a problem.

Heh!! Happy news for me! I've gotten my
1st shot of the Phizer caronavirus vaccine.
Life is getting closer to resembling normal!

And by the way - I strongly advise you all
to get the newer Shingrix vaccine.
I had gotten the older shingles shot. It turns out
those around 2000-10 shots were only 50% effective !!!
I had shingles in 2016. NOT GOOD !!!
Edible THC is legal in my state and quite
helpful!

Byker
2021-02-04 20:30:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by a425couple
Post by a425couple
from
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/jet-injectors/2021/02/02/23f3b8b0-6578-11eb-886d-5264d4ceb46d_story.html?fbclid=IwAR20kXKPWFHAKYJ58rsazyOUjfXem6iB3mc0vUByWvfYfbZ8SpFkRUCVohg
Wrote Tom: “I so wish I still had kids in the house, especially kids who
act up a lot. ‘Fall out for plague shots’ would have been an extremely
handy disciplinary warning.”
In the USAF we'd get typhoid shots every six months, and my arm would swell
up until I could barely get it through the shirtsleeve. Once I told the
doctor, "Why don't you gimme a shot in the other arm so I'll look like a
bodybuilder..."
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