ANSBACH, Germany -- Coughing, sneezing, fever, aches… Flu season is here. It's the time of year you can expect to notice more of these symptoms in your family, friends, or coworkers. But it doesn't have to be that way. The 2017-2018 flu vaccine is available at your Ansbach Health Clinic on Urlas Kaserne now.

Medical experts say the best protection against the flu virus is to get vaccinated.
All active duty Soldier are scheduled to receive the shot this week at the Grip Training Center on Bismark Kaserne, with Rotational Soldiers scheduled for vaccination on Stork Barracks Oct. 23 and 27.

Ansbach Garrison Leaders, Health Clinic on Urlas Kaserne encourage all community members to avoid delay in making appointments to get the shot now that flu season has begun. Telephone the clinic appointment line at (Commercial) 0496371-9464-3600 or (DSN) 590-3663.

This year, the flu shot will be available at the Ansbach Health Clinic on a walk-in basis for all community members (incl. Retirees. DoD Civilians, Active Duty family members and contractors) beginning 15 November.

Active duty will be vaccinated with their unit, and DODEA students can elect to be vaccinated at school.

The flu virus is constantly changing. Medical experts recommend a flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older, every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even though the flu virus changes each year, the flu vaccine is designed to protect against the main flu viruses that research suggests will cause the most illness during the upcoming flu season.

Experts recommend you should get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine becomes available, since it takes about two weeks for the antibodies to develop in your body to fully protect against the flu. It's important to get a flu vaccine every season, even if you got a vaccine last year.

It's especially important for high-risk patients to get vaccinated. The high-risk category includes those who are age 65 or older, pregnant women, and children younger than five, but especially younger than two. Additionally, people with asthma, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, HIV or AIDS, or those who have had a stroke are also considered high-risk and should get a flu vaccination as soon as possible. Even healthy people need a flu vaccine: Influenza is a contagious disease which affects the lungs and can lead to serious illness, including pneumonia. Yes, even healthy people can get sick enough to miss work or school for a significant amount of days, or even be hospitalized.

ABOUT IMMUNIZATIONS

Is the flu vaccine safe? Yes. The flu vaccine is safe. They have been given to hundreds of millions of people for more than 50 years and have a very good safety record. In addition, the flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness -- however, it can cause mild side effects that may be mistaken for the flu. For example, people vaccinated with the flu shot may feel achy and have a sore arm where the shot was given.

Influenza can be serious -- even if you bounce back quickly from illness, others around you may not be so lucky.

Immunizations are really the best protection against disease and have saved more lives than any other medical measure in history. "Immunizations have prevented approximately 42,000 deaths and 20 million cases of disease over the past decade," Looney said, "Those preventive efforts have also saved billions of dollars in related healthcare costs and total societal costs. Morbidity from vaccine-preventable diseases has fallen 90 percent or more for most diseases since the 20th century."

A majority of disease outbreaks in the U.S. occur in unvaccinated or inadequately vaccinated populations. Measles made a comeback in the U.S. partly because unvaccinated people traveled to Europe, contracted the disease and returned home. Incidence of pertussis (whooping cough) have increased largely due to vaccination coverage rates going down, resulting in a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that everyone receive one lifetime booster dose of a pertussis-containing vaccine. Other vaccine-preventable diseases include polio, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, meningococcal disease, pneumonia, tetanus, diphtheria, human papillomavirus, shingles, and Haemophilus influenza B (hib).

A common misconception is that vaccinations are just for kids. Everyone over the age of six months should receive a seasonal flu shot every year. Infection from influenza viruses can result in illness ranging from mild to severe and may cause life-threatening complications. Persons with existing medical conditions should consult their health care provider before receiving the influenza vaccine.
Attribution: Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

For more information on vaccinations, visit MILVAX Agency www.vaccines.mil/, the Vaccines Healthcare Center Network (VHC): www.vhcinfo.org/ CDC www.cdc.gov/vaccines, or visit the RHCE web site at http://ermc.amedd.army.mil.

ABOUT THE U.S. ARMY COMMUNITY IN ANSBACH
The Ansbach Military Community is located approximately 40 miles west of the German city of Nurnberg in the state of Bavaria and is spread across six sites surrounding the medieval city from which it takes its name. Ansbach is home to 12th Combat Aviation Brigade (12th CAB). A new, state-of-the-art 51,000 square foot health clinic facility located in the Urlas Community on Shipton Kaserne was opened in 2016. The community supports more than 10,000 Soldiers, civilians and family members.

To learn more about the people and facilities of the U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach (USAG Ansbach) and the people they support in Ansbach, Katterbach and Illesheim, visit the community website at http://ansbach.army.mil