Andrews gears up for 2006 flu season
/ Published November 01, 2006
ANDREWS AFB, Md. --
The 2006 Andrews Active Duty and Department of Defense employee Flu Drive will be held from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday at the 79th Medical Group Conference Center in building 1075. During this time, members will also receive all other required vaccinations. Members are requested to bring their old shot records if they have them. The flu vaccine is mandatory for all Active Duty members.
Dependents and other beneficiaries who need the flu vaccine should go to their primary care manager clinic or the Allergy and Immunizations clinic to be vaccinated as noted below. The Allergy and Immunizations clinic will be closed during the Flu Drive.
"No shortage of vaccine is expected this year," said Maj. Carl E. Thornblade, 79th Medical Group Allergy, Asthma and Immunology chief. "However, we are experiencing delays in distribution of the injectable vaccine. Currently, we have plenty of FluMist, the intranasal spray form of the vaccine, and we expect to receive the injectable form of the vaccine by early to mid-November. The FluMist is only indicated for healthy individuals 5 to 49 years old, whereas the flu shot can be given to anyone over six months of age.
FluMist is currently available at all primary care clinics and the Allergy and Immunizations Clinic. No prescription is needed. The Allergy and Immunizations clinic maintains a recorded message regarding the availability of the injectable flu vaccine at 240-857-7426, option four. Patrons are encouraged to call this number for the most up-to-date information before driving out to the base.
The flu is caused by the influenza virus, which can spread from infected persons primarily through coughing and sneezing. People can spread the virus even before they realize they are sick because the time from infection until symptoms develop can range from one to four days.
Adults remain infectious for about five days after symptoms begin and children may remain infectious for up to 10 days. Symptoms of the flu include abrupt onset of fever, chills, coughing, headache, runny nose, sore throat, muscle and joint pains. Most people feel ill from influenza for three to seven days, but others may need to be hospitalized.
On average, more than 225,000 people are hospitalized each year in the United States, resulting in about 36,000 deaths per year. In the 2003 to 2004 flu season, 152 of these deaths were in children. In the 2004 to 2005 flu season, about 75 children died from influenza.
"Virtually everyone can benefit from the protection afforded by a flu shot," said Major Thornblade. "The vaccine is updated every year to ensure it matches the current circulating virus strain."
The current flu vaccine doesn't protect against the Avian flu, which is caused by a particular strain of influenza virus called the influenza A H5N1 virus. There's no vaccine to protect humans against the H5N1 virus, although research trials are underway, he said. There have been no cases of Avian flu in the United States, but officials are working on strategies to protect and treat this disease should it occur here.
The peak flu season in the United States typically runs from December to March each year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu vaccine is strongly recommended for:
- Those 50 years and older.
- Individuals living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that house persons of any age who have chronic medical conditions.
- Adults and children six months and older with chronic cardiovascular or lung conditions, including asthma. Hypertension isn't considered high-risk.
- Adults and children six months and older who needed regular medical care or were in a hospital during the previous year because of a chronic metabolic disease -- such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, hemoglobinopathies or weakened immune system, including immune system problems caused by medicines or by infection with human immunodeficiency virus HIV/ AIDS.
- Adults and children six months and older who have any condition that can affect breathing or the ability to handle lung secretions or that can increase the risk for aspiration such as spinal cord injuries, seizure disorders, cognitive dysfunction, or other neuromuscular disorders.
- Children and adolescents six months to 18 years of age who are on long-term aspirin therapy. Chil-dren given aspirin while they have influenza are at risk of Reye syndrome.
- Women who will be pregnant during the influenza season; the vaccine is safe in any trimester.
- All children six to 59 months of age.
- Employees in healthcare.
- Caregivers of children ages 0 to 59 months and people at high risk for severe complications from influenza.
(Courtesy of the 79th Medical Group Allergy, Asthma and Immunology office)