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Flu vaccinations kickoff
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Faria, 366th Medical Group immunization and allergy technician, administers the flu vaccine to Col. Chris Short, 366th Fighter wing commander, Sep. 26, 2012, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Due to various health reasons, Airmen are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to become vaccinated as soon as possible. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Shane M. Phipps)
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Flu vaccinations kickoff

Posted 9/27/2012   Updated 9/27/2012 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Shane M. Phipps
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/27/2012 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Since the early 1900's, America has been plagued by various flu pandemics. From the Spanish flu outbreak in 1918, which killed nearly 675,000 people in the United States alone, to the 2009 introduction of H1N1, which left between 8,870 and 18,300 fatalities in its wake, distributing the vaccine for the flu virus has been a major priority.

With the safety of all personnel the number one priority, MHAFB also understands the significance of efficiently allocating the vaccine and has started doing so Sep. 1, even administering it to Col. Chris Short, 366th Fighter Wing Commander.

"If people see the highest ranking person on base get his vaccine done by Sep. 26, they will be more likely to think there's no getting out of it and take care of their own," explained Staff Sgt. April Nguyen, 366th Medical Group immunization and allergy technician.

Due to various health reasons, Airmen are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to become vaccinated as soon as possible.

"It's important to get vaccinated because the flu season is fast approaching, and if you don't get your vaccination sooner rather than later you may become sick, and it will be worse than it has to be," said Staff Sgt. Richard Faria, 366th MDG immunization and allergy technician. "Also, if more people get vaccinated, it is less likely to spread from person to person."

This particular vaccine has the added benefit of warding off H1N1, or swine flu, which has been known to commonly affect an age group prevalent in the military - young adults.

"The vaccine this year will help protect against H1N1, which affects younger adults as opposed to only the very old and children," stated Nguyen.

Before receiving the vaccination, each individual will be required to review a series of questions to help establish the best way it will be administered.

"We have the intranasal mist as well as the influenza shot, however, based on a screening questionnaire we will decide whether or not they get the mist or the shot," explained Faria. "The shot is only reserved for people who have high risks determined by factors like pregnancy or age."

Although the most common method of the vaccination is the intranasal mist, some people continue to indulge certain misconceptions surrounding it.

"It is a myth that you can get the virus from the vaccine," said Nguyen. "The mist can cause a cough or congestion, but that is not the flu, it's just a side effect."

For every MDG Airman, customer service is a principal objective and those who administer the vaccine are no exception.

"The unit deployment manager or the first sergeant of every squadron on base is encouraged to give me a call at 828-7260, and we can schedule a time to come to their unit and distribute the vaccination," said Faria. "We prefer to do it during a commander's call because that ensures we see everyone at once."

Even those who work unusual hours are afforded the opportunity to schedule an appointment.

"We are very flexible," said Nguyen. "We can schedule times outside normal duty hours for people who work swing-shifts or other odd hours."

Although the task of immunizing the entire base seems daunting, the Airmen in charge retain a positive attitude to get the job done.

"It's very exciting and rewarding to know I am helping out the Gunfighter community," exclaimed Faria.

For more information on vaccinations, contact immunizations at 828-7260.

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