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NHB Staff Prepares for Seasonal Flu Vaccination

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS091022-17
Release Date: 10/22/2009 3:57:00 PM

By Douglas H. Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs

BREMERTON, Wash (NNS) -- Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) is preparing to distribute seasonal flu vaccinations.

In the days leading up to the annual shot exercise, NHB's Preventive Medicine staff is conducting training for an Auxiliary Shot Force of hospital corpsmen to augment helping with expected long lines. After taking care of active duty personnel and health care workers, the Preventive Medicine team will hold 'shot clinics' for all others at the Naval Base Bangor Health and Education Center. Updated information can be accessed at NHB's Flu Hot Line 360-315-4469.

Annual seasonal flu vaccinations are required for all active duty military personnel, selected Reserves and healthcare workers in direct patient care. Per Navy Bureau of Medicine policy, healthy personnel age 49 and younger will receive the FluMist. Those 50 and older will receive the injectable vaccine. Vaccinations for eligible beneficiaries are pending.

"Obviously, this year is different with not only the seasonal flu and also dealing with H1N1," said Capt. Dan Frederick, NHB population health and forecasting coordinator. "Our Prev Med staff are doing a lot of collaboration with our Family Medicine, OB-GYN, Emergency Medicine and Pharmacy Departments to ensure we all are ready to do what's needed in taking care of our people. The situation is going to be dynamic and every one of us has to be flexible."

"This season will be unlike any before," commented Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Morgan Jensen, preventive medicine technician and instructor. "We usually average about 4,500 in the area for just the regular seasonal flu vaccination. We are definitely anticipating more this year."

The seasonal flu vaccine comes in two types and a common question is "Who gets what kind?" The nasal spray flu vaccine, commonly called FluMist, or Live, Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV), contains live, weakened flu viruses. It can be given to healthy children over age 2, non-pregnant teens and adults under 50 years of age.

"The majority of our active duty will get the FluMist," said Jensen, who noted that the spray can also cause mild congestion and a runny nose. "Some may get what we call a 'boggy' nose for a day."

A person can also get a low-grade fever or achy feeling for 1-2 days while their immune system responds to the vaccine.

"Kids are surprisingly easier with the FluMist," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Augustine Torres, preventive medicine technician and instructor. "Many of them have heard about it at school and are all about it. They don't want the shot. Getting the FluMist is really easy for everyone. There's no requirement for a deep breath. A person just has to breathe normally and it's done."

The flu shot, or Trivalent Inactivated Vaccine (TIV), contains inactivated (killed) viruses and may cause some soreness in the shoulder where the shot is traditionally given. Different types of syringes are employed due to body type. The Auxiliary Shot Force proved quick studies in learning how to prepare and give the shot in the shoulder as well as administer the FluMist in the nasal passages.

"We want to press firmly against the skin in giving the shot so that it looks like a crater," explained Torres. "There are a million and one reasons why the shot is great. But if it's not done right, it could leave a bruise and potentially not be as effective if the vaccine doesn't get completely in the muscle."

"Both the FluMist and shot are simple, and we'll make completely sure that they are administered correctly." attested Jensen, who added that just as important as giving the vaccination is getting all the forms correctly filled out so the data can be entered into everyone's medical records. "There's always administrative paperwork, and the help we get to handle it really helps make the process go a lot smoother and quickly for everyone."

NHB has used several communication methods to reach designated audiences, from line commanders to eligible beneficiaries, to keep them up to date on developments, especially concerning getting vaccinated. Frederick and his staff, along with other NHB assets, have utilized such resources as the command's internet to post information, a hot line for timely information, and even post card reminders are being sent to those who are pregnant; have a chronic medical condition; are over 65; or have children under 2.

Lt. Katherine Carrick has arranged for NHB's command duty officer and officer of the day watchlist personnel to get briefed with an update, as well as arranged to have an available, updated informational sheet for the after-hours personnel.

"For example, we wanted and needed something in print that our young Sailors could refer to if they got a query after normal working hours. We want our message to be consistent and not confusing," said Carrick.

The NHB awareness campaign has also been taken on the road. Kendra Scroggs, NHB marketing director, has briefed and explained the vaccination programs and fielded questions from local military spouses and families at ombudsmen meetings and open forums. Scroggs has also started a visual campaign of awareness with informational posters and flyers that have been strategically placed at NEXs, commissaries, base fitness facilities, and Naval Branch Health Clinics. She has also shared information at the Annual Retiree Seminar for uniformed services and DoD Federal Service employees.

Naval Hospital Bremerton continues to advocate and follow the Center for Disease Control recommendations of "Following the Four C's," considered to be great habits that slow the spread of flu; clean hands frequently (wash with soap and water and/or use hand sanitizer); cover the cough (use the arm or tissue, not the hand); confine yourself (stay at home if sick)' and crowds should be avoided when flu is in the community (decrease the risk by increasing the distance by three feet or more from others).

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