SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - American Soldiers stand ready to deploy, engage and destroy any enemy of the U.S. in close combat, but sometimes, the deadliest of enemies are the smallest of all.

Anthrax, smallpox, typhoid, influenza and other pathogens, unseen to the naked eye, can render any service member to a withered corpse in a matter of days.

However, the Schofield Barracks Troop Immunization Clinic, or TIC, ensures America's fighting forces, here, are armed with the proper defenses to counter the threats posed by these deadly diseases.

The TIC administers all vaccinations for troops stationed, here, including smallpox and anthrax vaccines that are routine vaccinations for all deploying troops. Ensuring troops' protection from these two diseases is of special importance.

"Smallpox and Anthrax can be absolutely devastating to mission readiness," explained Sgt. Jared Taylor, noncommissioned officer in charge of troop immunizations and Soldier readiness at the TIC. "Anthrax, if contracted through inhalation, has an approximate lethality rate of 80 percent for any individuals without prior vaccination.

"Smallpox, though less lethal (30 percent lethality rate), is just as devastating because it spreads quickly, and those who contract it are severely debilitated," he said.

For the Soldiers working at the TIC, immunizing Soldiers from harmful viruses is more than just a job.

"I was trained as a medic, and it feels good to be doing my job, but it's even more rewarding to know that I'm keeping the Soldiers healthy and vaccinated," said Pfc. Anthony Norris, a medic at the TIC.

But keeping healthy is also the responsibility of each individual Soldier. Simple actions such as washing your hands can greatly reduce the risk of contracting and suffering from a debilitating illness.

"Since the advent of hand-washing among medical practitioners, no other contemporary medical practice has helped save more lives than vaccinating," Taylor said.

For more information about military vaccinations, visit <a href="http://www.vaccines.mil">www.vaccines.mil.</a>.

Page last updated Thu July 15th, 2010 at 19:04