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Homeland Security

Post gets proactive with flu meetings

Oct 8, 2009

By STEVE REEVES, Fort Jackson Leader

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Get immunized, practice good hygiene and stay home if you're experiencing flu-like symptoms.

That was the message Tuesday night from Col. Nancy Hughes, commander of Moncrief Army Community Hospital, who spoke during a town hall meeting about H1N1 at the Joe E. Mann Center.

Hughes also said H1N1 vaccinations have been ordered and are expected to arrive at Fort Jackson later this month.

People are urged to get immunized for both the seasonal flu and H1N1 viruses.
Vaccinations for seasonal flu have already begun on post and 5,000 Soldiers so far have been inoculated, Hughes said. Hundreds of school children, parents, military family members and DoD civilians have also received seasonal flu shots.

Officials hope Fort Jackson will receive enough H1N1 vaccinations for everyone on post to be inoculated. If not, vaccinations will be prioritized according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

"We are very concerned about making sure our Soldiers, our family members, our kids and our civilian workforce stay healthy," Hughes said.

Fort Jackson officials have launched an intensive education effort to make people aware of the importance of good hygiene, which includes frequent hand washing.

Hand washing and sanitizer stations are being installed across the post and hand sanitizer is being issued to Soldiers and civilian employees.

Anyone who exhibits flu-like symptoms should stay home until 24 hours after his or her fever has subsided.

Hughes said the preventive measures put in place, along with the vaccinations, should mean any disruptions on post due to an outbreak of seasonal flu or H1N1 will be minimal.

"We're confident that once we get the vaccine, we'll be OK," she said.
Worst-case scenarios are being prepared for, however.

Hughes said parts of post, such as the PX and commissary, could be closed and gatherings such as church services canceled, in the event of a severe outbreak.

John Coynor, Fort Jackson's force protection officer, said there is room on post to keep as many as 900 Soldiers sick in quarters.

"We don't expect to see that level, but we are prepared," Coynor said.

Ann Gordon, one of Fort Jackson's school liaison officers, said parents are asked to keep children who have flu-like symptoms or a fever of 100 degrees or higher home from school.

The next H1N1 town hall meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m., Oct. 19, at the Solomon Center.

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