MDG flu vaccination program aids wing readiness

Senior Airman Jeremy Means, emergency medical technician, gives Chief Master Sgt. Layton Clark, 4th Fighter Wing command chief master sergeant, a FluMist vaccination Oct. 6.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Robin DeMark)

Senior Airman Jeremy Means, emergency medical technician, gives Chief Master Sgt. Layton Clark, 4th Fighter Wing command chief master sergeant, a FluMist vaccination Oct. 6. (U.S. Air Force photo by Robin DeMark)

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- The 4th Medical Group here kicked-off their annual flu immunization program by administering the first flu vaccine to Chief Master Sgt. Layton Clark, 4th Fighter Wing command chief master sergeant, Oct. 6.

"It doesn't hurt. Don't be a sissy, get in here and get vaccinated," said Chief Clark. "It's every Airman's responsibility to take care of their personal health to maintain the readiness for our wing."

According to Technical Sgt. Patrenia Hawkins, NCO-in-charge of immunizations, the base-wide program will run from late October through early November. The medical group will visit each squadron to immunize all active-duty military.

"The flu vaccine is required for all active duty," said Maj. Ruth German, blue team physician. "It's important to get vaccinated early to keep active-duty military a ready-to-fight force at all times."

According to Dr. German, there are limited numbers of the FluMist for the base population, so it's a first-come, first-serve basis. After that, the flu shots will become available.

FluMist is made from the activated or Live Attenuated Intranasal Influenza Vaccine (LAIV) and is administered through the nose by a nasal spray.

"The nasal mist provides somewhat better protection than the flu shot," said Senior Airman Jeremy Means, emergency medical technician. "The mist is also easier to administer because it's quick and painless. There are no needles used."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccination each fall. There are two types of vaccines:

The flu shot is an inactivated vaccine containing killed virus that is given with a needle. The flu shot is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions. The nasal-spray flu vaccine is a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu and is approved for use in healthy people 5 years to 49 years of age who are not pregnant.

For more information about the influenza vaccine program, contact your local healthcare provider, call 1-800-CDC-INFO or visit www.cdc.gov/flu.