H1N1 vaccinations urged for families, civilians

| April 16, 2010 | 0 Comments

Tripler Army Medical Center
News Release

Military in the Pacific is above vaccination rate 

HONOLULU — While Hawaii was recently ranked sixth in the nation as far as residents receiving their H1N1 vaccinations, the chief of Preventive medicine for the U.S. Army’s Pacific Region Command says that sixth isn’t good enough.

Col. (Dr.) Michael Sigmon estimated that the vaccination rate of Army civilians and military family members is about the same as the 34 percent rate reported by the state for its entire population. 

The Centers for Disease Control announced these statistics, earlier this month, as part of its nationwide survey conducted in February.  

Scientific studies show that more than 85 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated for a “herd immunity” to take place, Sigmon said.

Herd immunity occurs when enough people are vaccinated so that when a person comes down with a contagious disease, that person can’t spread it to others around him or her. Already immune to the disease, someone won’t spread it further. 

While the active duty military population in the Pacific has well above the 95-percent vaccination rate, tracking the Army’s civilian employee and family member populations has been challenging, Sigmon noted. 

Sigmon explained that while active duty personnel have their vaccinations entered into their military health records, civilian vaccinations are not as easy to count because of patient privacy rules and differences in how health records are maintained.

At a state health department press conference held April 1, the Honolulu Advertiser reported that the state epidemiologist Dr. Sara Park credited last year’s swine flu clinics with helping Hawaii achieve a 55 percent vaccination rate among children 6 months to 17 years old. 

Like Park, Sigmon strongly urges parents, with children under 10 who received a first dose, to bring their children in for the second dose. Like Park, Sigmon strongly urges parents with children under 10 who received a first dose, to bring their children in for the second dose. 

Park said an estimated 30 percent of children under 10 who got their first vaccination have not gotten their second dose that would give them the full benefit of the vaccine.

The CDC report for Hawaii shows, that of adults between 25 and 65 years of age, and of those who had health conditions that put them at greater risk of severe H1N1 illnesses, only about 32 percent were vaccinated. The vaccination rate was 18.5 percent for all others in the 25-65 age category. 

“There still is a possibility that the H1N1 virus can become a serious threat to the health of everyone in Hawaii,” he said. 

“The best and simplest protection is still the vaccination,” Sigmon added. 

He urged service members and their families to contact their primary health care provider or the immunizations clinic at military installations posted on the “Fight the Flu” Web page on the TAMC Web site: www.tamc.amedd.army .mil.

Category: News

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