News: High-risk family members receive H1N1 vaccine
Story by Cpl. Jacob A. Singsank
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - H1N1 "Swine Flu" vaccinations are available now for high-risk family members and eligible TRICARE beneficiaries at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, but service members will have to wait a little longer to be vaccinated.
Marines and sailors will be vaccinated when the next shipment of the vaccine arrives "in a few weeks," hospital officials said.
"This year, the H1N1 flu vaccine is coming from two sources, and the shipments cannot be mixed," said Navy Capt. Ann Diggs, executive officer, NHCP. "Vaccine for active duty military and Department of Defense employees will come from DoD supply sources, and the vaccine for all other TRICARE beneficiaries will come from the Department of Health and Human Services."
TRICARE beneficiaries will be able to receive the H1N1 vaccination through a shot or a nasal FluMist, while service members must receive theirs by shot only. Marines and sailors are required to get vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available.
Vaccinations for high-risk family members began Nov. 2.
High-risk individuals include pregnant women, both dependents and service members, people who live with or care for children younger than six months of age, children six months through four years of age, and children five through 18 years of age who have chronic medical conditions, according to a Naval Hospital press release.
"Families will be able to get vaccinated at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton and NHCP clinics," said Cmdr. Joseph F. Penta, group surgeon, 1st Marine Logistics Group. "Children under ten should get two shots that are at least thirty days apart to be fully protected, but one shot is still better than none."
Penta said the vaccine is very safe and is made by the same process, using chicken eggs, which has been used for making the seasonal flu vaccine for decades and tested in millions of people without a problem.
"The more people who get vaccinated, the less likely the H1N1 flu is to spread through the community," said Penta, 39, from San Clemente, Calif. "By getting your H1N1 shot you help protect yourself, your family and everyone around you."
The vaccine is about 95 percent effective in preventing H1N1, said Penta. Even the five percent who get the flu will generally contract a less severe case of the H1N1 flu. He also added that it takes about two weeks for the flu shot to be fully effective for someone's immune system to benefit from it.
For more information about H1N1 or vaccinations, call the hospital at (760) 725-4357.