Before now poetry has taken notice
Of wars, and what are wars but politics
Transformed from chronic to acute and bloody?
from "Build Soil"
Robert Frost

Sunday, January 14, 2007


It looks like the military is once again going to require the anthrax vaccination for troops in "high risk" areas: the Middle East and Korea. The vaccination is controversial, to say the least.

I chose to take the vaccine voluntarily. It seemed to me that the risks involved were not that great, and I had a hunch that it would become required again while I was in Iraq. I decided that I might as well be further along in the series when that happened, and remove some of the headache from my tour.

Today was my fourth shot in the series. I went down to another battalion's medic station to get the shot, along with two others from my platoon and one of the medics. For the fourth time, I glanced over a list of possible side effects and complications, and twice more answered "Yes" when asked "Are you sure you want to receive this shot?". I took off my blouse and rolled up my sleeve. The medic swabbed my skin with an alcohol pad, and stopped with the needle poised over my skin to ask "Are you allergic to any medications?". I replied with a straight face "Only to some vaccine components."

Note to self: Medics don't find jokes about allergic reactions funny.

For ten or fifteen seconds, I didn't feel anything. That was odd- the first three had felt like the medic filled a syringe with Jack Daniels and shot it into my arm. I was just starting to wonder if perhaps I had received a bad dose when the fire hit me like a swift punch, and kept growing. Thirty seconds longer, and I would have been wishing to get hit with real anthrax just to make the shots worth it, but the burning finally subsided.

I have to ask myself: why do I go to so much trouble for something that gives me so much discomfort?


  1. You do it to protect us!

  2. I've had the whole series and I always thought it felt like it would if the Human Torch punched you in the arm. Your happy that a superperson touched you but then it burns a second later and you are left wondering whether or not it was worth being punched by a genetically altered human being.

  3. That's the trouble with government bureaucracy. They make mandates that affect whole swaths of Americans without really seeing if it applies to individuals. It makes sense when we need to wipe out infectious diseases, but does it make sense for things like anthrax vaccinations which may actually hurt or injure more people than the possibility of an actual attack?

  4. Anonymous15/1/07 15:06

    Anthrax is a strange disease. The common path with pulmonary anthrax reminds me of my wife's grandfather's favorite comment on Arabs. (He was Italian and came to the US about 1900.) "Treachery, treachery!" he would exclaim.
    Pulmonary anthrax has that very peculiar course of illness for 5-6 days and then a bit better, only to become extremely short of breath and die within a day or two. Treachery, treachery!

    I never met a US Marine whom I didn't respect.

  5. You made an intelligent decision.

  6. Better safe than sorry? Suffer a bit now, to hopefully avoid possible worse suffering and/or death later? Sounds like good reasons to me! yikes...!

    Thanks for all you do - anthrax shots & all -- you are in our prayers & thoughts.

  7. I'm not looking forward to giving them out either, sigh, more work. Keep your head down!

  8. Anonymous25/2/07 11:34

    What else would you be doing with your time? I mean really?