NEWS | Sept. 12, 2011

This Year’s seasonal flu vaccine has arrived

By Maj. Helda Carey 628th Medical Group Clinical Flight commander

Influenza is a highly infectious illness that spreads rapidly through coughs and sneezes of people who are carrying the virus. In addition to hand washing and covering one's mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing, getting your annual flu vaccine is a great preventive measure.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, each year, experts from the Federal Drug Administration, World Health Organization, CDC and other institutions study virus samples collected from around the world to identify the influenza viruses that are most likely to cause illness during the upcoming flu season so people can be protected against them through vaccination.

Three vaccine viruses are chosen every year to maximize the likelihood that the influenza vaccine will provide appropriate protection during the upcoming flu season.

Approximately two weeks after vaccination, antibodies which provide protection against the influenza viruses in the vaccine develop in the body. This year, the WHO recommended that the Northern Hemisphere's 2011-2012 seasonal influenza vaccine contain the following three vaccine viruses:

· an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus;
· an A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus; and
· a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.

The CDC reports selection of this year's vaccine is identical to last year's three strains due to the expected risk.

When to get vaccinated:

The CDC recommends people get their seasonal flu vaccine as soon as the vaccine becomes available in their community. Vaccination before December is best since this timing ensures that protective antibodies are in place before flu activity is typically at its highest. CDC continues to encourage people to get vaccinated throughout the flu season, which can begin as early as October and last as late as May. During the course of the flu season, many different influenza viruses can circulate at different times and in different places. As long as flu viruses are still spreading in the community, vaccination can provide protective benefit.

Where to Get Vaccinated:

Flu vaccine shipments to local health facilities began in August and will continue throughout September and October. The 628th Medical Group currently has a full supply of 2011 influenza vaccine available for Joint Base Charleston beneficiaries.

To meet the Department of Defense requirement to have all active duty members immunized, the 628 MDG will be hosting a flu line for all active duty and government non-contract employees on the following days:

Sept. 16 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Bldg. 610.
Sept. 22 from noon to 8 p.m. at the JB - CHS theater
Sept. 30 from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the JB - CHS theater

Medical personnel will be available to screen personnel as well as to answer questions regarding the vaccine prior to administration. The different times of administration will allow all personnel the opportunity to choose the best time to receive the immunization and minimize time away from work. Only flu immunizations will be provided during the times given. Members needing further immunizations are advised to stop at the 628 MDG Immunizations Clinic for assistance.

Other 628 MDG beneficiaries, to include dependents and retirees, can continue to receive this vaccine and any others they may require at the 628 MDG Immunization Clinic during regular business hours. To accommodate school age children and working parents, the 628 MDG Immunizations Clinic will remain open until 6 p.m. Sept. 28 to 30.