Influenza vaccines coming to military health clinics in Europe

September 1, 2011


By
Europe Regional Medical Command release

HEIDELBERG, Germany – The influenza season is upon us and the FDA-approved influenza vaccines will soon be available at military health clinics across Europe.

Initial shipments of the injectable Fluzone for beneficiaries 6 months and older and intranasal Flumist for beneficiaries between 2 and 49 years of age are being distributed to Medical Treatment Facilities (MTF). However, the Pediatric Fluzone is not slated to arrive until end of September/early October. The CDC recommends the influenza vaccine for all persons 6 months and older for the 2011-2012 influenza season.

“All military personnel are required to receive the influenza vaccine. The Army set a compliance date of December 1, 2011. All beneficiaries are highly encouraged to receive the seasonal influenza vaccine”, said the Europe Regional Medical Command force health protection officer Col. Carlheinz Stokes, who manages the ERMC influenza vaccination program.

Influenza immunization is mandatory for:
- All active-duty military personnel
- Department of Defense civilian direct health care providers
- DODDS students and employees
- DOD child care employees and attendees

The flu season in Europe routinely runs through April with the greatest number of influenza cases usually occurring in the month of January, according to statistics monitored by the U.S. Army Public Health Command – Europe. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the influenza vaccine for all persons 6 months and older for the 2011-2012 influenza season.

“Vaccination is your best protection against seasonal influenza,” said Stokes. “However, practicing good respiratory etiquette and frequent hand washing will also help curb the spread of influenza as well as many other diseases.”

According to the CDC, influenza caused more than 160,000 adult hospitalizations last year alone. Because of the high immunization rates, there were only two known hospitalizations in European military communities last season.

“We hope to continue this trend and get our beneficiaries immunized as early as possible this season. This is especially true once we start the school year, since this is when we really see upward trends in influenza rates,” said Stokes.

DOD Military Vaccination Program officials expect a sufficient amount of influenza vaccine to be available this year. This season’s influenza vaccine will protect against three strains of flu, including H1N1 influenza.
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For more information on the influenza vaccine, contact your local military health clinic.

Vaccine and immunization information is available at the CDC website: www.cdc.gov/vaccines and at the DOD MILVAX website: www.vaccines.mil.