Time to get influenza vaccines

  • Published
  • By By Lt. Col. (Dr.) Joseph P. Forester
  • Chief of Allergy and Immunology
An influenza mass vaccination for active duty personnel only is scheduled here Nov. 13-16 from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the 413th Flight Test Squadron auditorium, bldg. 439, on a first-come first-served basis.

The auditorium is located on West F Avenue, across from the old library on the east side of the base.  The influenza vaccine is mandatory for active duty and reserve military members and they must receive it through their military treatment facility.

Flu vaccinations are recommended for everyone six months of age and older.  Children six months to eight years old getting vaccinated for the first time may need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected.

The child development center recommends against the use of the FluMist nasal vaccine due to its poor protective effects over the past several years. Therefore, flu shots are the only option this year.

A high-dose flu vaccine for persons 65 years and older is available and covered at TRICARE network pharmacies.  A limited supply will be available at the main Immunizations Clinic beginning in November.

TRICARE dependents and retirees can receive the flu vaccine at the Eglin Immunization Clinic, Primary Care clinics, and without a prescription and with no out-of-pocket expense at TRICARE retail network pharmacies.  This coverage is available to all TRICARE beneficiaries eligible to use the TRICARE retail pharmacy benefit.

TRICARE participants can contact their local TRICARE retail network pharmacy to ensure availability and participation in the vaccine program and can also verify that the pharmacy will administer vaccine to children, if needed. For additional information on this TRICARE benefit go to this link: http://www.TRICARE.mil/HealthWellness/Preventive/FluResources.aspx

For millions of Americans, the flu season can mean a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue and miserable days spent in bed.

However, the flu also causes hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands or sometimes tens of thousands of deaths. Flu outbreaks occur most often in the late fall, winter and early spring, so peak occurrences are just around the corner.

Studies show getting a flu vaccination reduces flu illnesses, doctors' visits, missed work and school, and flu-related hospitalizations.

Some people ask if they should get a flu vaccine every year. The answer is yes. The reason is the virus and the needed vaccine will typically change from year to year and immunity to the flu virus declines over time.  An annual vaccination offers the best protection against infection.

Military members and beneficiaries with egg allergies, a previous reaction to the flu vaccine or who developed Guillain-Barre syndrome within six weeks of receiving a flu vaccine should consult their physician before receiving a flu shot.