The month of August brings everyone closer to the start of school, college and the 2014-15 flu season.
So why add another “to do” to the list and get our vaccinations? Because we can reduce the risk of illness when we do! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “some diseases (polio and diphtheria) are becoming rare because we are vaccinating against them. Unless we eliminate a disease, we must keep vaccinating.” If we do not, the diseases we thought were eradicated can come back full force, causing epidemics with serious consequences to the public. The recent outbreak of measles in Kansas, Washington state and Ohio are examples of how quickly a preventable disease can spread.
National Immunization Awareness Month is an opportunity to get the word out about immunizations and to improve national immunization coverage levels with the help of the CDC, recommendations through the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Guidelines, and the National Public Health Information Coalition (cdc.gov/vaccines/partners/events/niam).
One of the missions of Preventive Medicine Services, with the assistance of our physicians, nurses and the Immunization Clinic at the Mary E. Walker Clinic here, is to provide immunizations to protect our children’s health and the future of our children’s children to come. Family Members and dependents can receive immunizations in the Immunizations Clinic at the Mary E. Walker Clinic in consultation with their primary care provider.
Military service members require immunizations, too. Immunizing servicemembers safeguards the military services against common preventable communicable diseases that may affect the functioning capacity of the fighting force. Because servicemembers also deploy to geographical areas that could have endemic communicable diseases, they are also immunized against these when they deploy. Military members can access their own immunization records on Army Knowledge Online by clicking on the “My Medical Readiness” tab, then click on “My Immunizations.” Active duty servicemembers are welcome to receive any due immunizations at Preventive Medicine Services, building 172 on Wednesdays. No appointment is necessary.
In preparation for the 2014-15 flu season, here are a few recommendations to help keep you healthy: Wash your hands often, especially before, during and after food preparation; after using the bathroom; before eating and drinking; and especially after touching surfaces such as doorknobs, grocery carts, and the telephone. Clean and disinfect surfaces with soapy water and bleach and water solution (one tablespoon of bleach to a quart of water). Get immunized!
Who should receive the influenza immunization? Priority groups include all children 6 months of age and older, adults ages 50 and older, pregnant women, individuals with immune system deficiencies, and those individuals with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular disease, renal, liver, neurologic, hematologic, and metabolic disorders. Healthcare personnel or those caring for persons with medical conditions that place them at high risk of complications from influenza also receive priority. At the Department of Defense, all military personnel have priority to receive the influenza immunization in order to maintain the health of our fighting force.
For more information related to immunizations and the upcoming Flu season, contact Preventive Medicine Services, at 380-3235/3053/6027/5327.