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Vaccinations and Medications during 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 service members during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm to protect against nerve agent attacks.
  • Mefloquine (Lariam®) is a drug given to service members to protect against malaria, an infectious disease transmitted by mosquitoes. It is used less than it has been in the past.
  • 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 Military Health System.
  • Smallpox vaccine prevents smallpox, a deadly, viral disease. Because there is concern that smallpox could be used as a biological weapon, service members 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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