Army prepares to administer 1.6 million flu shots
Army Pvt. Jonathan Bowen (left), health care specialist with the 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade, provides an influenza vaccination to another Soldier. The vaccination will help keep Soldiers healthy this flu season and maintain the unit's level of medical readiness. (U.S. Army photo)
the Army estimates it will use approximately 1.6 million doses of the injectable influenza vaccine (i.e., flu shot) – more than half of the total number of doses ordered by the Department of Defense annually – to keep both active duty and reserve Soldiers, civilian staff, and family members healthy during the upcoming flu season.
For the 2016-2017 flu season, only injectable flu shots will be provided to Soldiers, federal civilians, and beneficiaries. No live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), known as FluMist, will be offered based on effectiveness recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The Army's flu shot supplies will start arriving at military medical treatment facilities as early as September.
While some people only think about flu vaccines during the fall and winter months, Army Flu Manager Miguel Rivera Jr. said preparing is a year-long mission. Each year Rivera, who is assigned to the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency which is a subordinate organization of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, reaches out across the Army to work with other preventive medicine experts and logisticians to estimate the number of vaccines needed for the upcoming season. This calculation starts in February to allow the Defense Logistics Agency enough time to tally the total number of doses needed across the DOD and order supplies.
The goal is to immunize with flu shots at least 90 percent of service members and health care professionals by Dec. 15, 2016.
"If people do not get their flu shots by December, we still encourage them to get immunized," said Army Lt. Col. Charlene L. Warren-Davis, USAMMA's Pharmacy Consultant and Distribution Operations Center director. "The flu vaccine is usually viable until June 30."
August is National Immunization Awareness Month, which is sponsored by the National Public Health Information Coalition to encourage people of all ages to make sure they are up to date on the vaccines recommended for them.
Most people over the age of six months will benefit from influenza vaccination. In most cases, according to the CDC, the risks of getting vaccinated are significantly lower than the benefits. By getting vaccinated, each person can keep their loved ones safe. Getting vaccinated protects others who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, such as older adults, people with chronic health conditions and young children – especially infants younger than six months old who are too young to get vaccinated. Also vaccination has shown to make the flu milder, which may reduce the risk of more serious flu outcomes such as hospitalizations.
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