General Question

essieness's avatar

Do all Mexicans (born in Mexico) have the tuberculosis vaccine scar on their arm?

Asked by essieness (7641 points ) June 13th, 2009

My boyfriend, who was born and raised in Mexico City, has a scar on his right arm that looks sort of like a burn scar. It’s from a tuberculosis vaccine that he got when he was an infant. He says that all people who are born in Mexico and who get the vaccine have this scar. I don’t know if I believe him or not he’s been known to play pranks like this ;)

So… does anyone know about this??

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41 Answers

augustlan's avatar

I have no idea if all Mexicans get it, but I have it and I was born in the US. When I was about 4 or 5, that had this thing like a vaccine gun. We went to the firehouse, lined up, and they ‘shot’ us all in the arm with multiple vaccines all at once. I’ve been told it looks like a pipe burn.

chyna's avatar

I have the scar but it wasn’t from TB, it was from another vaccine that we had as kids. It was the polio vaccine. We had to wear a little plastic cup over it after we got it.

chyna's avatar

@augustlan Oh, I thought it was the Polio vaccine. Did you remember the plastic cup we had to wear over it?
@essiness I was born and raised in the US also.

eponymoushipster's avatar

I thought this was pretty common. check it

essieness's avatar

@eponymoushipster Ok, I totally Googled it and didn’t get anything back! But yeah, that’s what his scar looks like. So is it tuberculosis, smallpox, or polio?

eponymoushipster's avatar

@essieness TB, afaik. smallpox is a smaller scar (do a similar image search on google) and, if i recall, polio is orally vaccinated. perhaps one of the doctors can elaborate, but i believe the more “large welt in flesh” scar is TB.

chyna's avatar

There was a sugar cube we had to take also, and that could’ve been the polio vaccine. I was in first grade, so it was too long ago to remember what I took and what it was for.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I was born in Canada, and mine is on my upper thigh. They put it there in girls, instead of the upper arm, because they were (at the time) more likely than boys to wear sleeveless shirts out in public.

SirBailey's avatar

I have it. And to think my mother had me believing I was born in NY! No wonder I like tacos so much!

knitfroggy's avatar

My parents both have scars and they said they are from small pox vaccine-they were born in the 50s. I think the sugar cubes was the polio.

casheroo's avatar

What? I don’t have a scar! goes off to inspect arms
eta: not a mexican

eponymoushipster's avatar

@casheroo you have to go somewhere to inspect your arms?! where do you keep them? ;)

casheroo's avatar

@eponymoushipster shut up lol. there’s poor lighting in the bedroom, plus i feel the need for a mirror, okay? haha

casheroo's avatar

okay, looked at arms. i have no circle scar. i do recall getting that TB test thingy, where they prick you with that square with 4 prongs..and your parents have to watch it to see how it reacts. what was that thing? i thought that was for TB?

chyna's avatar

@eponymoushipster I just laughed so loud that my dog woke up. Thank you for that.

AstroChuck's avatar

We older folk remember when we all had the scar. Fortunately, mine never developed so, just like you youngsters out there, I don’t have one.

Darwin's avatar

Mine is from the smallpox vaccine that I got somewhere in the mid to late 1950’s. It was smaller then, but it grew as I did. For many years I had to carry my little yellow vaccine record along with my passport, because I wouldn’t be allowed back in to the US without written proof of my small pox vaccination.

My TB tests were done with a bubble of liquid on the skin of my lower inner arm that was then scratched with a needle and then checked some days later. As they got fancier, it was done with a glass vial that both applied the liquid and scratched the skin with those prongs at the same time.

My polio vaccines (at least the ones I remember) were the sugar cube type. As I recall, the cubes looked slightly pink.

For many years I had a discolored patch on my arm where I was given my Typhoid vaccine. We lived in South America and it was common there so we had to get the shots, which consisted of a series of three injections just under the skin and resulted in a large, red, painful area. We also had to get Yellow Fever and Cholera.

I also remember the doctor making house calls to give me a penicillin shot in the gluteus maximus – now that shot hurt like nobody’s business.

shilolo's avatar

The answer to your specific question regarding your boyfriend also depends on his age. Smallpox was eradicated by 1977, and so most people born after 1980 were not vaccinated against smallpox. TB is endemic in Mexico, and as such, most children are vaccinated against tuberculosis with the BCG vaccine (it only protects against severe childhood tuberculosis, which is why the BCG vaccine is not recommended in low endemic areas like the US). So, most likely he is being truthful. He has a BCG scar, and, if he isn’t older than say 28, he likely DOES NOT have a smallpox scar.

Response moderated
YARNLADY's avatar

oops, forgot credit per wikipedia: “BCG immunization leaves a characteristic raised scar that is often used as proof of prior immunization. The scar of BCG immunization must be distinguished from that of small pox vaccination which it may resemble.” My mother had a vaccination mark on her arm from the small pox vaccine that looked just like the liberty head quarter.

@casheroo You are correct about the TB test, is it a poke with four prongs to test for the presence of TB, not a vaccination. The test is administered to people allong the Mexican border who want to work in food service (San Diego).

bythebay's avatar

I have “the scar”. It’s so small now I had to search it out in a mirror. I showed my kids and explained to them how we all just lined up and got it in the arm with the gun. They were mortified and my smarty pants son said “after that did they inject you with a chip so you could never be lost or leave the colony.” Yes, I was quite dismayed to have to show my age and explain to him that we didn’t even have micro-chips then. Youth is overrated.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@bythebay that’s what they want you to believe. There were chips, and the DNA you provided is stored at a secret base in the Yukon. This DNA helps aid our alien overlords to determine who is fit for colonization.

oh crap, CIA…

…I for one WELCOME our new alien overlords!~

chyna's avatar

@eponymoushipster You’re busted. CIA can read whispers.

SirBailey's avatar

NOT when you wear that thing around your head!

arturodiaz's avatar

no, not all mexicans have the scar but a lot do. I do have one from polio. Im 17 years old. Altough my little brothers got a nice fancy polio vaccine which does not leave any mark
Im mexican btw.

Dr_C's avatar

One more Mexican to comment…. A great majority of Mexicans over the age of 20 do have the shoulder scar as the vaccine was not only widely available but also a staple for small children up to the late 80’s in most major Mexican cities. However not everyone that got the vaccine got a scar. I’m scar less on the shoulders and got the vaccine a LOOOOOOONG time ago. Sister has it, mom has it….fiancee doesn’t.

The use of the vaccine was commonplace as is the scar… but having had the vaccine does not automatically result in scarring.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@chyna D’OH!

tell my story.

bythebay's avatar

@eponymoushipster: If you’re not back in 7 days, we’ll send out the search jellies…

eponymoushipster's avatar

@bythebay i’ll be renditioned somewhere in the Bahamas, hopefully.

bythebay's avatar

@eponymoushipster: Silly monkey, you won’t even remember you were gone let alone where you were!

chyna's avatar

@bythebay Remember that primate we used to know and love.. epony something or other

bythebay's avatar

@chyna: I do, that funny little monkey that never smiled…I wonder whatever became of….

chyna's avatar

Oh dear, it’s the CIA question all over ag…

YARNLADY's avatar

@eponymoushipster It’s not in the Yukon, it’s in Ogden, Utah. If you don’t believe me, look at all the help wanted ads for communications engineers.

everval's avatar

I have it, I’m 24… my son has it, he’s 18 months old, but my husband doesn’t… we’re Mexicans born, raised and living in Mexico City, so yeah, a lot of us have it but not all…

Dr_C's avatar

@everval chilango pride? (My papa era del DF.. tengo meses que no visito! como siguen con la epidemia?)

everval's avatar

@Dr_C jajaja sí... (mmm la epidemia ya en el pasado… nothing to worry about!!)

Dr_C's avatar

@everval que bueno porque en ISESALUD aqui en Baja California nos tenian HASTA LA MADRE con reportes falsos y panico generalizado. Jamas habia atendido a tantos pacientes por dia! Gracias a dios se paso rapido :P

steel1000's avatar

I just want to tell you that in fact that’s true! All mexicans receive that vaccine. If you come and visit us, you can see that many people has that “pipe burn”.

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