Dr. Sabin Warned of Hepatitis Risk From Jet Injectors in 1976

Dr. Albert Sabin, the creator of the oral polio vaccine, warned jet injectors could spread hepatitis in 1976. Several newspapers had reported upon Dr. Sabin’s comments.

During a meeting amongst health professionals planning a mass vaccination campaign for swine flu, Dr. Sabin interrupted a speaker to voice his concerns.

The York Daily Record reported in 1976, “Sabin…stood up during a speech by state epidemiologist Dr. Richard Parker to challenge the state and national strategy against swine flu.”

The article further stated, “Sabin also warned jet-injector guns could possibly spread disease during a mass immunization campaign” (York Daily Record, 1976).

In publishing Dr. Sabin’s comments, the New York Times wrote that he said “jet injector guns that will be widely used in an assembly-line procedure may themselves spread disease” (New York Times, 1976).

In response to Dr. Sabin’s comments, the CDC purported that jet injectors are safe to use. The Salt Lake Tribune printed the following:

Defends Jet Gun Safety
Jet injector guns, which can inoculate up to 800 persons an hour, were being used in the immunization clinics. The CDC said that contrary to a charge by Dr. Albert Sabin, the discoverer of oral polio vaccine, the jet guns are safe to use and do not transmit any disease such as hepatitis (Salt Lake Tribune, 1976).

Yet the CDC did not conduct any safety testing upon the jet injector until 1977, in which the Hepatitis Laboratories Division did find the transmission of hepatitis via jet injectors was possible. See article – CDC’s Unpublished Jet Injector Studies – Part I

Dr. Sabin, like several others during his time, was correct to question the safety of jet injectors.

  • In 1962, the Eli Lilly Company warned, “If the nozzle becomes contaminated with blood or serum, it should be replaced or resterilized before further use to prevent the transmission of serum hepatitis virus or other infectious agents from one person to another.” See article – 1962 – Eli Lilly Warns of Hepatitis Transmission Via Jet Injection
  • In 1967, Dr. Sol Rosenthal studied the transference of blood between consecutive vaccinees when using a jet injector. Dr. Rosenthal stated, “It was reasoned that if the detection of the transference of erythrocytes (hemoglobin) or serum could be assayed, one might infer that the parenteral hepatitis agent would likewise be transferred” (Rosenthal, 1967).
  • In 1970, M.G. Kremer raised concern over the cross-contamination of serum hepatitis from jet injectors in the British Medical Journal. Kremer wrote, “The injector is not sterilized between injections, and in many cases it produces a small amount of bleeding at the injection site. The injector could thus become contaminated with blood, thus transmitting, for instance, hepatitis virus to subsequent patients” (Kremer, 1970).
  • During a 1971 National Institute of Health conference on tuberculosis vaccinations, the consensus from members was jet injectors do produce blood during the administering of vaccination and the possibility of transferring hepatitis cannot be excluded (DHEW, 1972). See article – 1971 NIH Conference Recognizes Bloody Jet Injectors Pose Risk For Hepatitis
  • By 1973, a scientific article had acknowledged the concern raised by previous researchers. The researcher, H.D. Wilson from a county health department in Scotland, even acknowledged that “during high-pressure injection, traces of blood may cover the inside of the bell [of the jet gun nozzle] adjacent to the skin, and the possibility of transfer of…hepatitis must be considered…” (Wilson, 1973).


  • (DHEW, 1972) Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health. Status of Immunization in Tuberculosis in 1971; DHEW Publication No. (NIH) 72-68, pp. 185-187. Washington, D.C., 1972.
  • (Kremer, 1970) Kremer MG. Jet vaccination [letter]. Brit Med J 1970; 4:303.
  • (New York Times, 1976) New York Times. Questions on Vaccine. New York, New York. 27 September 1976; pg. 30.
  • (Rosenthal, 1967) Rosenthal SR. Transference of blood by various inoculation devices. Am Rev Respir Dis. October 1967; 96(4):815-819.
  • (Salt Lake Tribune, 1976) Salt Lake Tribune. Swine Flu Drive Moves With Few Side Effects. Salt Lake City, Utah. 3 October 1976. pg. 2.
  • (Wilson, 1973) Wilson HD. Experience of BCG Vaccination by Jet Injection in an Outbreak of Primary Tuberculosis. Lancet April, 28 1973; 1(7809):927-8.
  • (York Daily Record, 1976) York Daily Record. Dr. Sabin Opposes Mass Swine Flu Shots. York, Pennsylvania. 23 September 1976. pg. 2.

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