Flu vaccinations are here for you

Col. James Slife, 1st Special Operations Wing commander receives a flu vaccination administered by Staff Sgt. Sheri Sellers, 1st Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron, at the medical group building at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Sept. 6, 2011.  Vaccinations are available at the clinic weekdays between 7:30 AM until 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM until 4:30 PM.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Amn Naomi M. Griego/ Released)

Col. James Slife, 1st Special Operations Wing commander receives a flu vaccination administered by Staff Sgt. Sheri Sellers, 1st Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron, at the medical group building at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Sept. 6, 2011. Vaccinations are available at the clinic weekdays between 7:30 AM until 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM until 4:30 PM. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amn Naomi M. Griego/ Released)

Flu vaccination supplies lay on a table at the medical group building at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Sept. 6, 2011.  The 1st Special Operations Medical Group is encouraging everyone from the age of six months and older to get their flu vaccination.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Amn Naomi M. Griego/ Released)

Flu vaccination supplies lay on a table at the medical group building at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Sept. 6, 2011. The 1st Special Operations Medical Group is encouraging everyone from the age of six months and older to get their flu vaccination. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amn Naomi M. Griego/ Released)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- As fall and cooler temperatures approach, so does the flu season. You may remember the last time you had the flu; you got to stay home from work, felt awful and may have missed an important event or activity you were looking forward to.

When large numbers of people are out sick, it also impacts the important mission of the U.S. Air Force. At the Hurlburt Field Clinic, our goal is to keep you and your family healthy, ready to work and able to participate in all the activities you enjoy. That's where the flu vaccine comes in.

Annual flu vaccinations are the most effective method for preventing influenza virus infection and its complications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6-months-old and older. The Hurlburt Field Clinic currently has the flu vaccine available for all Department of Defense beneficiaries.

The flu is a contagious illness caused by a virus that is spread through coughing and sneezing. Individuals may also become infected when touching objects (for example telephones, door handles, keyboards, ect.) with viruses on them and then touching their nose and mouth. Common symptoms of influenza include: fever/chills, sore throat, cough, headache, muscle aches, fatigue and/or a runny or stuffy nose.

The flu is typically mild and lasts several days to two weeks, but it can cause complications and even death in a small number of individuals. The CDC reports an annual average of 3,000 to 49,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations occurring each year in the U.S. due to influenza infections. Those most at risk for complications are:

· Children under 4 years and persons over the age of 50

· Pregnant women or adults and children with chronic illness immunosuppression, or any condition that compromises respiratory function.

It is also important for those who live with or care for someone in the high risk category to receive a flu vaccine every year.

Other important preventative actions include:

· Covering your mouth/nose with the crook of your arm when you cough or sneeze

· Washing your hands often with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer

· Refraining from touching your eyes, mouth and nose frequently.

If you are sick with influenza, avoid spreading illness by limiting contact with others. Stay home for at least 24 hours and wear a mask if you go to a medical treatment facility or are out shopping for essentials.

This year the goal of the DOD Influenza Vaccination Program is to protect all active duty, Guard and Reserve personnel, mission-essential DOD civilians, health care personnel and TRICARE beneficiaries from influenza and its severe complications. The DOD's goal is to exceed 90 percent immunization of the active duty, Guard and Reserve components by Dec. 1.

The vaccination is available to all DOD beneficiaries at the Hurlburt Field Immunizations Clinic weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., as well as at all medical group appointments through Dec. 1. If you have any questions or concerns, contact the Immunizations Clinic at 881-1373.