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Military Vaccine Flattens GI, 17

CBS News

(CBS) Amid all the war stories that have come out of the conflict with Iraq, Tyran Duncan's hasn't been widely told. The willing soldier became an unwitting victim to the vaccinations he was required to take to deploy. And as CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports, he's not the only one.

Tyran Duncan was just 17 - Number "45" at Monterey High in Tennessee - when he signed up for the Army.

"I was excited," says Duncan. "I mean it's always been my lifelong dream to go into the military and, you know, be a soldier."

At boot camp, he eagerly lined up for vaccinations, including flu and anthrax.

"They gave us, I'd say, seven shots … at one time," he says.

First he got a rash, then flu symptoms.

"It got to where I couldn't walk at all," he says. "I couldn't even hold my glass up with both hands to take a drink out of it.

"Basically they accused me of faking it."

But Duncan wasn't faking. Within days, he was paralyzed, on a respirator and certain he'd die, until his grandmother who raised him came to help.

"There was nothing wrong with him when they got him," says Duncan's grandmother Faye Harville. "It had to be the vaccines. I'll never see it another way."

Rehabilitation video chronicles his difficult fight back. At one point last January, he weighed 96 pounds.

Months after his paralysis hit, he was finally back at home, but he still couldn't feed himself or put on his shoes.

Today, he remains unsteady, and muscle and joint pain are constant companions.

Duncan's paralysis was diagnosed as Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which is clearly listed under "adverse reactions" on the anthrax vaccine label.

But soldiers don't get to see that vaccine label when they get their shots. And the Pentagon publicly claims there are no long-term adverse events from the anthrax vaccine. So soldiers may end up misdiagnosed, then discharged with serious illnesses.

Incredibly, Duncan has been listed as "active duty" all this time, meaning the Army has yet to process his medical case or decide on compensation.

"Looking back on what I used to be and what I am now, it's heartbreaking," says Duncan.

But without the military career and questionable health, looking ahead can be even harder than looking back.