Flu Shots Increase Readiness at the National Training Center

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FORT IRWIN, Calif. — Weed Army Community Hospital increased the readiness of service members at the National Training Center by bringing the influenza vaccine to their area of operation, beginning Nov. 9.

“Making sure [the shots] are done in a timely fashion and in a way that works for the units sometimes is a logistical piece,” said Maj. Danielle Nichols, Nurse Corps, Public Health Nurse and Chief of Preventive Medicine.  “We can bring out some supplies and five or six personnel to those 300 persons, potentially, versus them trying to go somewhere else.”

The portable portion of delivering influenza shots is designed for units that do not have organic medical assets.  The flu shot was first delivered to Soldiers at NTC headquarters building, and the remaining major subordinate commands will be visited by WACH staff before Dec. 15.  The flu vaccine is a medical readiness component that is tracked in the Medical Protection System (MEDPROS), a readiness tool that gives a snapshot for unit commanders to know the medical readiness status of their units.

The vaccine is an annual requirement, rather than every two to five years, because the strain can change.  This ensures Soldiers stay healthy and are capable of accomplishing their mission.

“This is very convenient because I don’t have to get in my car and drive to the hospital, because I am very busy and won’t be able to get it at all,” said Maj. Christ Hristofidis, NTC’s chief of operations.

WACH starts administering vaccines to active duty personnel beginning in September, but as more influenza shipments come in they will become available to beneficiary patients at the hospital.  Certain individuals who are high risk cases for influenza should check with their primary care clinic and may be able to get the vaccine earlier.  As WACH gets additional shipments, messages will be posted through the installation.  Flu season runs from October to as late as March, with a peak in January and February.

“Thank everyone who has an interest in seeking the vaccine and to the units who are now working through the process of getting their Soldiers vaccinated, and thank you to folks for their patience during this process because sometimes we are at the mercy of when our shipments come in,” said Nichols.

For more information, visit the Weed Army Community Hospital website at http://www.irwin.amedd.army.mil/.