By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd class Samantha A. Lewis, Naval Medical Center San Diego Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO - Naval Medical Center San Diego's (NMCSD) Preventive Medicine Department assisted Navy Region Southwest to meet the CNO's goal of providing Influenza (flu) vaccinations to 90 percent of all active duty Sailors by Dec. 1.
The CNO directed in July, mandating that 90 percent of active duty Sailors receive their flu vaccination by Dec 1. As a command, NMCSD exceeded that goal by five percent, vaccinating a total of 95 percent of its active duty staff.
NMCSD's Preventive Medicine immunization program kicked off the start of the flu season with a command shot exercise (SHOTEX) on Sept. 6 and since has provided more than 19,000 vaccinations to all eligible staff and beneficiaries.
"The preventive medicine immunization program coordinates all vaccine allocations for the area, which includes NMCSD's inpatient emergency room, active duty clinics and TRICARE outpatient clinics," said Tracey Lopez, NMCSD immunization program manager.
NMCSD's flu team is comprised of approximately 15 Hospital Corpsman that include the following team members; team leaders, data entry specialists and those who administer the vaccine. The teams also assisted Branch Health Clinics by providing onsite flu immunizations, allowing the clinics to focus on seeing patients instead of giving flu immunizations which helped to increase patient accessibility for appointments.
"We are representing Naval Medical Center [San Diego] when we go out on these flu events, either at NMCSD's Branch Clinics or for other commands, and that may be the only time they actually see our hospital and how we operate," said Lopez. "We want to send a positive message that we take care of their Sailors and give them the information and the immunizations they need."
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website, the flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
The vaccine will be available until June of 2012 through NMCSD's internal medicine and primary care clinics. All TRICARE beneficiaries are eligible to receive the flu vaccine. Other beneficiaries eligible for the flu vaccine include: DoD health care workers (Dental and Medical - GS and Contract) that work for NMCSD and NMCSD's Branch Health Clinics, San Diego Military Child Development Centers providers and emergency essential personnel for San Diego area military bases (security, Fed Fire etc).
Each season the flu vaccine is provided based on when the vaccine supply is received and the priority groups designated by the CNO, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. So far in 2011, NMCSD has administered roughly 1,000 more flu vaccinations compared to the 2010 flu season.
NMCSD beneficiaries can contact the flu hotline 532-5FLU for available sites and hours, or visit : http://www.med.navy.mil/Pages/Flu_H1N1_Info.aspx