Seasonal influenza vaccine now available

  • Published
  • By Maj (Dr.) David Rose
  • Chief of Immunizations
A mass influenza vaccination line for active duty only is Oct. 26-29 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Oct. 30 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the 413th  Flight Test Squadron auditorium (Bldg. 439) and will be 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 (flu) vaccine is also now available for all eligible beneficiaries at the immunization clinic and primary care clinics here during regular operating hours. Since influenza outbreaks can happen as early as October, everyone is encouraged to get immunized early. Influenza activity typically peaks in January or thereafter.

Influenza, commonly referred to as "the flu," is a highly contagious viral infection of the nose, throat and lungs. Influenza occurs most often in the late fall, winter and early spring, so peak occurrences are just around the corner.

Immunization is the key to influenza prevention and is recommended for everyone six-months of age and older. There are two ways to receive the influenza vaccine: the "flu shot" and the nasal-spray flu vaccine or "FluMist."  The two vaccines do not differ significantly in their effectiveness.

The influenza vaccine is mandatory for active duty  and reserve military members and they must receive the immunization through a military treatment facility.  Other TRICARE beneficiaries (dependents and retirees) can receive the seasonal flu vaccine at the immunization clinic or primary care  clinics 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.  People are encouraged to call their local TRICARE retail network pharmacy to ensure availability and participation in the vaccine program. Also verify the pharmacy will administer the vaccine to children, if needed. For additional information on this TRICARE benefit click here.

This flu season, Eglin Hospital will offer a trivalent (three strain coverage) and quadrivalent (four strain coverage) injectable flu vaccine. FluMist nasal vaccine continues to cover four strains of flu.

High dose flu vaccine for persons 65 years and older is available and covered at TRICARE network pharmacies and a limited supply will be available at the immunizations clinic in late October.

For those who have a severe egg allergy, have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination or who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome within six weeks of receiving an influenza vaccine should not get a flu vaccine without first consulting their physician.

The influenza vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. The viruses in the vaccine change each year based on international surveillance and scientists' estimations about which types and strains of viruses will circulate in a given year.

Seasonal influenza epidemics occur annually in the United States.  Each year it is estimated that influenza causes: 95 million infections, 25 million physician visits, 200,000 hospitalizations, and between 3,000 to 49,000 deaths.