Jet Injectors = Jet Infectors
March 17, 2016
In 1958, the media heavily reported on the Army’s introduction of a needleless vaccination device capable of administering mass vaccinations. The device, known as the Multidose Jet Injection Device, was co-invented by Lieutenant Colonel Abram Benenson, M.D. and Aaron Ismach. This device became more commonly known as the Ped-O-Jet due to later development of a non-electrical foot-pump model.
Benenson responded to the risk of transmitting serum hepatitis in this 1958 newspaper article: “The jet gun still touches a person’s arm so there is a ‘remote possibility of contamination,’ colonel Benenson said. But this chance is so slim it’s almost nonexistent.”
The last sentence is no more than a manipulative advertising technique. A hazard is not diminished because someone says so, even if that person is a doctor. The importance lies in Benenson’s assertion that there is a “remote possibility” that his invention, the most widely-used jet injector within the Armed Forces, could transmit serum hepatitis.
Here is the article in its entirety.
July 9, 1958
El Paso Herald-Post
El Paso, Texas
Army to Replace Needle With Jet
WASHINGTON, July 9. — The Army is going to plunge the doctor’s needle into semi-retirement this fall. Before year’s end, all mass inoculations among soldiers will be given with painless “jet guns” instead of painful needles. The jet-propelled injectors are not only painless. They are safer and faster than the customary needle-and-syringe.
Guns on Order
Lieut. Col., Abram S. Benenson, director of immunology at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research here, said today a Battery of jet guns is on order for delivery late this year. He said the Army will use them for all mass inoculations as a matter of routine. The needle will be reserved for individual cases or small groups. Col. Beneson said the jet injectors work so fast it’s hard to keep up with them. For instance, a jet gun is capable of “shooting” 1200 soldiers an hour –one every three seconds. But so far the record for injections is “only” 734 an hour.
Fires Through Skin
The problem is one of moving men fast enough through the “shot” line to keep the jet injector working at top speed. The jet gun fires vaccine through the skin without puncturing it–consequently no pain. It’s also safer, than a needle-which sometimes can suck blood out of one person and jab it into another during large-scale inoculations. In this way, the virus of serum hepatitis — “yellow jaundice” — can be passed from a silent carrier to a previously uninfected individual. The jet gun still touches a person’s arm so there is a “remote possibility of contamination,” colonel Benenson said. “But this chance is so slim it’s almost nonexistent.” [emphasis added]
Used in Thailand
The colonel said a jet injector has been used with troops in Europe and is working fine. Several such guns also were pressed into service recently in Thailand, where the Army pitched in with the World Health Organization for mass inoculations to prevent spread of a cholera outbreak. A jet gun can be operated by one physician and four helpers.