News: DoD orders enough H1N1 vaccine for National Guard
Story by Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Department of Defense has acquired enough doses of the H1N1 flu vaccine to immunize all 460,000 members of the National Guard, officials announced, Oct. 28.
"The DoD supply will go out to the Guard based on their order through the ... U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency," said Army Lt. Col. Dawn Barrowman, the chief of occupational health for the Army National Guard.
All states have ordered the H1N1 injectable vaccine through USAMMA, which is the same way that states order the seasonal flu vaccine.
The Army Guard in two states, Arkansas and Indiana, plan to use the Department of Health and Human Services allotment procured by their state, said Army Col. Rob Brown, the Army Guard's chief surgeon.
For Air Guard personnel, the H1N1 injectable vaccine has been ordered through the active duty host base using the same method and guidance as the seasonal flu, said Air Force Capt. Tonya Moser, the chief of medical logistics for the Air National Guard.
Shipments of the DoD vaccine are still scheduled for the second week of November, but "exact dates will differ from state to state," Brown said.
DoD has acquired 2.7 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine, which may be allocated to active duty members, Reservists, Guardmembers, DoD civilians and essential contractors, according to a DoD memorandum.
Despite this announcement, Guardmembers are encouraged to get the vaccine through the "most expedient route," Barrowman said. This includes registered H1N1 providers or a HHS source.
If a Soldier does receive a H1N1 vaccine from another source, he is strongly encouraged to provide the documentation to his unit's medical readiness NCO, Barrowman said. This will enable the Army Guard to track the number of Soldiers who have received the vaccine.
The vaccine will be mandatory for uniformed personnel and highly encouraged for all others, according to a DoD memo. Priority would be given to deployed and deploying forces, new accession sites, including the service academies, and healthcare personnel.
Brown said the vaccine was produced by the same companies that made the seasonal flu vaccine and it went through strict quality assurance inspections by the Food and Drug Administration before it was approved for release to the public.
He emphasized the H1N1 vaccine is the best and most effective way to protect yourself.
Brown also encourages Guard members to take everyday actions to stay healthy, including: 1) cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, 2) wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze, 3) avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, because germs spread that way, and 4) stay home if you get sick.