Being immunized fosters a healthy workforce
November 3, 2010
- Flu's impact can devastate, deadly for some
- Immunizations save money in lost work days, productivity
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - For members of the Army Family - Soldiers, civilians and Family members - protection against seasonal influenza is a simple immunization - inhaling a mist or getting a flu shot.
The impact of the flu can be devastating, according to Dr. (Lt. Col.) Mark Ireland, commander, Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic and director of installation health services.
"Most people recognize it's a very serious illness," Ireland said as two members of his staff administered vaccines at the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command headquarters Nov. 3.
"Particularly for people who have problems with their immune system or the young and the elderly - the flu can be deadly," he added.
Sgt. 1st Class Quneitra Quintero, noncommissioned officer in charge of Kirk's primary care division, and Sgt. Daniel Kershner, noncommissioned officer in charge of the immunization clinic, were busy giving vaccine mists to most members of the RDECOM staff. The flu shot is recommended for those 50 and older and for toddlers.
Ireland said this year's vaccine includes three strains of the virus, including the N-1 strain, which is a concern even to young healthy people.
"We do this because we recognize that we need a healthy workforce, to promote health and wellness," Ireland said. "If any organization were to have 30 or 40 percent of their workforce sick and unable to come to work for two weeks, it would have a tremendous impact on their ability to perform their mission.
"So we recognize by putting a little bit of money into vaccinations we save a ton of money in terms of lost work days and lost productivity."
Ireland said there are medical contraindications for some individuals to getting the flu shot.
"What we'll do is screen each individual and go through a set of questions that may trigger a few additional questions. Based on those medical conditions (we) determine whether a person is eligible for the vaccine or not," he said.
"I'm GREEN on flu shots," said Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin, RDECOM's senior enlisted advisor, as he thanked the medics for bringing the vaccine to the headquarters.
"You guys are on the frontline, and what you're doing is very important. Never forget that," he said to Quintero and Kershner. "You might not be out there running around the battlefield with a rucksack and weapons, but what you're doing right now is critical to our workforce and to the military."
Ireland stressed that now is the time to get immunized.
"Since vaccine is being offered to the Total Army Family, it is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Once the vaccine is gone, it's gone," he said. "Right now we have vaccine, but probably by the January timeframe we won't have any more."
For more information about getting immunized against the flu, call Kirk Health Clinic, 410-278-KIRK (5475), or visit them on the web at the link in the box above.
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