Falls Church, Virginia - Fall is the unofficial start of flu season and Navy Medicine is stressing the importance of readiness for Sailors, Marines and their families.
Vice Adm. Forrest Faison, Navy surgeon general and chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED), received his flu shot to set the example for all Sailors, Marines and their families this flu season, Oct. 13/14.
"It is essential that Sailors, Marines and their families get their flu shot," said Faison. "The flu can have a significant impact on readiness, but vaccination is the best way to protect and reduce the risk while keeping yourself and your loved ones healthy."
The seasonal flu vaccination is mandatory for all Department of Defense uniformed personnel who are not medically or administratively exempt.
Navy Medicine's goal is to immunize 90 percent of Sailors and Marines, and provide 100 percent vaccine access for Navy and Marine families by mid-December. However, Navy Medicine will not use the intranasal (nasal spray) live attenuated influenza vaccine this year because it is considered ineffective by the Centers for Disease for Control (CDC).
"We will reach our goal through aggressive immunization campaigns and shot exercises." said Lt. Cmdr. Jaime Vega, BUMED public health officer. "It's never too late to get your flu shot. Whether you work on a ship or in an office setting, the flu is a force reducer and affects the combat readiness of our warfighters."
According to the CDC, the most effective way to reduce seasonal flu and its complications comes in the form of vaccination. It takes about two weeks after a flu vaccine is administered for an individual to be protected from the flu, so it's important to get a vaccine before the flu virus spreads in your community.
"Flu season begins in the fall and remains a health threat until late spring. The seasonal flu vaccine not only helps protect vaccinated individuals, it also helps protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of disease," Vega said. "Everyone, even those as young as six months, should get their influenza vaccine each year. It is especially important for pregnant women and people with chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes, and those with weakened immune systems."
In addition to receiving the flu vaccine, maintaining a clean work environment, practicing consistent hygiene, and managing staff exposure are other measures to reduce the spread of flu.
Vega offers additional tips for preventing the flu:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze
- Wash your hands with soap and water after touching commonly-used door handles or office equipment
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; germs spread this way
- Avoid close contact with sick people
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them
- Stay home if you are sick until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever, or signs of a fever without the use of a fever-reducing medicine such as acetaminophen
Navy Medicine military treatment facilities across the world began administering the flu vaccine to Sailors, Marines and their families in September.