Flu activity in the United States and at Fort Benning is low now, making this the best time to get a flu vaccine to prevent catching the flu.
“At the beginning of the month, we began immunizing our active-duty Soldiers, high-risk patients and Fort Benning medical personnel with the new one-dose influenza immunization that includes both the H1N1 and seasonal influenza vaccine,” said LTC (Dr.) R. Jason Newsom, chief of Preventive Medicine for MACH. “To date, we have issued over 10,000 doses on Fort Benning.”
Who gets the vaccine? Beginning this season, all people six months and older are recommended to receive an annual influenza vaccination. In February, the Center for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted in favor of universal influenza vaccination in the U.S. to protect as many people as possible against the flu. There is one exception. CDC recommends children 6 months through 8 years who have never received a seasonal flu vaccine get two doses of vaccine spaced at least four weeks apart the first year they are vaccinated to help develop immune protection. This includes children who received one or two doses of the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine, but who have never received a seasonal flu vaccine. Children who only had one dose in their first year of vaccination should get two doses the following year.
What viruses will this season’s vaccine protect against? The flu vaccine is updated every year to combat the flu viruses that research indicates are most likely to cause illness during the upcoming season. The 2010-11 flu vaccine is being made in the same way as seasonal vaccines have been made for decades. It will protect against 2009 H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season, an H3N2 virus and an influenza B virus. About two weeks after the vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against influenza virus infection develop in the body.
“Even people that got vaccinated with the 2009 H1N1 vaccine or last year’s seasonal vaccine need to be vaccinated with the flu seasonal vaccine this year,” said Maj Renee Busse, chief, Public Health Nursing. “This season’s vaccine provides protection against other influenza strains that were not in either the seasonal or the 2009 H1N1 vaccine last season and besides, immunity from a vaccine gotten last year may decline over times.”
The MACH Flu Clinic is located at the Adult Primary Care Clinic, Building 9214, 6635 Bass Road, behind the hospital. It opens Monday and will be open for the first two weeks of November, excluding Nov. 11 and 12. Hours are 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays. For more information, call 706-545-8039 or 706-544-2273 or visit www.martin.amedd.army.mil.