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Vaccinations and Medications during Service

Latest update: Social media rumors have been circulating that VA will grant 100 percent disability compensation for allegedly tainted lots of the anthrax vaccine. The rumor about a tainted anthrax vaccine is a hoax. VA does not have this policy. The potential side effects of vaccines, including anthrax, are generally mild and temporary. Read more about the anthrax vaccine, including information addressing the rumors, on the Military Health System anthrax vaccinations page and find out about VA benefits for health conditions incurred in or caused by military service.

Some Veterans have raised concerns about certain vaccines and medications they received while serving in the military.

Female Servicemember getting vaccinated

Photo: U.S. Department of Defense

  • VA continues to evaluate the health effects of Gulf War vaccinations, including anthrax and botulinum toxoid.
  • Pyridostigmine bromide (PB) is a pre-treatment drug taken by Servicemembers during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm to protect against nerve agent attacks.
  • Mefloquine (Lariam®) is a drug given to Servicemembers to protect against malaria, an infectious disease transmitted by mosquitoes.
  • Anthrax vaccine is a series of six shots to protect against the infectious, bacterial disease anthrax, which has been used in biological warfare. Learn more from the Defense Health Agency.
  • Smallpox vaccine prevents smallpox, a deadly, viral disease. Because there is concern that smallpox could be used as a biological weapon, Servicemembers are vaccinated against it. Learn more from Medline Plus.

If you are concerned about long-term side effects from vaccinations or medications during your military service, talk to your health care provider or contact your local VA Environmental Health Coordinator to help you get more information from a health care provider.

 
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