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Lance Cpl. Josef Lopez still suffers from injuries he began experiencing in Iraq three years ago — injuries caused not by bombs or guns but by a military-administered smallpox vaccine he got before he left the United States. The shot, which the military strongly encourages troops to get, triggered a rare bad reaction in the Marine from Missouri — leaving the then-20-year-old Lopez in a coma, paralyzed for several weeks and unable to breathe, McClatchy Newspapers reported. Lopez hasn't been the same since. He's regained the ability to walk, but he limps. His loss of bladder control means he has to wear a urine bag. He takes about 15 pills a day to treat leg spasms and other conditions. Now, Lopez and his family are upset because the government says he isn't eligible for a special benefit of up to $100,000 for members of the military who have suffered traumatic injuries.
The department couldn't say how many claims have been denied because of injuries or illnesses related to immunization shots — but Wurtz and others estimated it was probably a small number, McClatchy Newspapers reported.