Mass flu vaccination set to improve health, force readiness

| September 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

Stephanie Rush
U.S. Army Pacific Regional Medical Command Public Affairs

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Tripler logo

HONOLULU — Installations around the island will hold a mass flu vaccination exercise, Sept. 18-20, with the goal of vaccinating as many Oahu-based active duty service members and emergency-essential civilians as possible.

“Each year in the United States, approximately 25 million cases of influenza get reported,” explained Lance Golder, analyst, Military Vaccine Agency. “These cases result in about 150,000 hospitalizations due to serious complications. Over 30,000 people die from influenza annually in the U.S. alone.

“The seasonal influenza vaccine,” Golder continued, “is one of the most beneficial tools in modern medicine for reducing sicknesses, deaths, health care costs and conserving fighting strength.”

Getting service members and critical civilians vaccinated in a 72-hour window isn’t just beneficial for public health. Exercises help improve readiness and strengthen the ability to recover after a disaster or public health emergency.

“Following a catastrophic health event, the ability to dispense medical countermeasures to affected populations quickly and efficiently is crucial,” explained Thomas Bookman, emergency operations manager, Pacific Regional Medical Command and Tripler Army Medical Center.

The mass vaccination exercise is using a closed point of dispensing system, or PODs, which is different than traditional vaccination or medication dispensing sites because it brings the vaccine to where Soldiers and emergency-essential civilians are located.

“This plan is ideal for federal agencies because our employees can receive medications or vaccinations on site. It also allows for a more rapid dispensing of vaccinations and helps to ensure continuity of government,” Bookman explained. “PODs assist public health authorities in meeting mass prophylaxis challenges during an emergency.“

The flu vaccine isn’t important for just service members and emergency-essential civilians. “The influenza vaccine is particularly important for everyone living in Hawaii because we see influenza cases all year around,” Golder said. “It is important to remember that Hawaii is a gateway to the world. We have travelers arriving from both hemispheres where their peak influenza season may be in full bloom.”

Vaccines will be available to all Tricare beneficiaries at military medical treatment facilities in Hawaii, starting Sept. 21. Vaccines will be available at post exchanges throughout October and local schools in October and November.

Across the island, active duty service members and emergency-essential civilians on all military bases will hold similar mass vaccination exercises. Drivers may experience traffic delays or reduced parking around mass vaccination sites.

Patients visiting clinics on post may experience longer waiting times due to reduced medical personnel.

Flu Vaccination Exercise

All active duty Soldiers and critical Army civilian employees are required to get their flu vaccine during the mass flu vaccination exercise, Sept. 18-20 at Conroy Bowl.

Tricare beneficiaries can begin receiving their flu vaccine at military medical treatment facilities, Sept. 21.

TAMC Online Support

For a complete listing of clinic operating hours, scheduled vaccinations at post exchanges, or more information on the flu vaccine and how to protect you or your loved ones visit www.tamc.amedd.army.mil/flu.

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Category: Army Community Covenant, Community, Exercises, Health, Safety

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