News: 376th Expeditionary Medical Group readies Transit Center for flu season
Story by Staff Sgt. Krystie Martinez
TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan - The 376th Expeditionary Medical Group here has taken steps to keep Transit Center at Manas service members healthy by administering flu vaccinations near the start of flu season.
The flu season starts in late October and can continue through March, usually peaking in January or February.
Prevention methods such as covering your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze, hand washing and disinfecting commonly used items like phones, and doorknobs are daily rituals that can cut the risk of catching the flu. While these methods are helpful, there isn't a substitute for the flu vaccine. Getting vaccinated is a mandatory requirement for all military personnel including Department of Defense civilians.
"On Sept. 1, every military person becomes due for influenza immunization," said Maj. Pamela Paulin, 376 AEW public health officer. "Then you become overdue Jan. 1"
She said once someone becomes due the clinic sends an email alerting him or her. However, if a person still remains due after the second week, steps are taken to alert the individual's leadership to encourage compliance.
The 376 EMDG has taken the convenience of being vaccinated a step further by setting up vaccine locations throughout TCM and taking the shot to the individual.
"We have roving clinics and we'll go to the outliers, pick up security forces that work shifts and maintenance operations guys," said the Oklahoma City, Okla., native deployed from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. "We have identified a point of contact in each unit to get the best time and day, we'll take 2-3 personnel from the clinic and they'll go to them."
There is an overlap between symptoms of colds and the flu. Flu symptoms typically come on suddenly with fever, headache, muscle aches, and a cough as prominent symptoms that last 2-7 days. The flu vaccine does not cause flu.
In order to decrease the risk of spreading the illness to others, people experiencing flu-like symptoms should get permission from their leadership to stay in their dorms until they feel better. If the symptoms are not improving in 48 hours and are severe enough to interfere with work, then go to the clinic which is open 24/7.
"The number one way to prevent yourself from catching the flu is to get vaccinated," said Paulin. "Prevention is the key."