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PACAF emphasizes anthrax vaccination before deployments

by Maj. Rich Essary
Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

5/6/2007 - HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii (AFNEWS) -- Headquarters Air Force officials recently sent additional implementation guidance to major commands that emphasizes pre-deployment notification.

The Air Force guidance states that all categories of personnel on orders may begin immunizations up to 60 days before deployment or arrival at the deployment location. High threat areas are primarily the Central Command area of responsibility or the Korean peninsula.

"Every effort should be made to provide at least three doses prior to deployment or permanent changes of station," said Lt. Col. Jeff White, assistant chief, readiness and operational requirements division at Headquarters Pacific Air Forces.

"Since Airmen often receive their written orders late in the pre-deployment process, the words 'on orders' is not meant to imply that members must have orders in hand to begin or resume vaccination. Personnel must only have received pre-deployment notification and have begun out-processing procedures," he said.

It is also not sufficient to simply be assigned to an AEF 'pair.'

"Unit leadership must actually notify an individual that he or she has been identified for deployment for 15 or more consecutive days, and directed to begin the necessary pre-deployment actions," Colonel White said.

"The spirit and intent of the guidance is to provide enough lead time to administer three doses of vaccine prior to departure when at all feasible," said Lt. Col. Cynthia Cogburn, command public health officer.

"The rationale behind providing at least three doses prior to deployment is to assure Airmen some level of immunity, though full immunity only occurs after completing the six-dose series," the colonel said.

The anthrax series includes the initial vaccination followed by a shot at two weeks, four weeks, six months, 12 months, and 18 months. Once Airmen complete the series they only need an annual booster to remain current.

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