STUTTGART, Germany -- The Army Health Clinic Stuttgart has officially kicked off its annual Army flu campaign.

Influenza vaccination is mandatory for uniformed personnel and health care personnel who provide direct patient care and is recommended for all others.

In the United States, influenza results in more than 35.6 million reported cases, over 710,000 hospitalizations due to serious complications, and up to 56,000 deaths annually.

"Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus and the best way to protect against the flu and its complications is to get vaccinated every year and practice good hand hygiene," said Lt. Col. Orlando Ruiz Sosa, AHC Stuttgart chief of Army Public Health Nursing, which oversees the immunization program.

"I advise people to wash their hands frequently, avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay home when you are sick, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth; and to use hand sanitizers frequently when soap and water are not available," Ruiz recommends.

For the 2019-2020 influenza season, the Army has contracted a total of 1.48 million doses of influenza vaccine. This amount ensures vaccination against influenza is available for all military personnel and beneficiaries.

The Stuttgart campaign will use Afluria and Fluad injectable doses.

Afluria and Fluad are vaccines given by intra-muscular injection. The Afluria pre-filled syringe is for patients six months to 64 years old, while the Fluad prefilled syringe is for patients 65 years of age and older. Both vaccines are not live virus and can't give you the flu.

"Active-duty military personnel need to coordinate immunization with their units to receive their flu vaccine during the Pandemic Influenza Exercise," Ruiz added. "Please remember to bring your military ID card."

Below is the flu outreach schedule for MILITARY only:

Kelley Fitness Center:
- Oct. 7, 8:20 a.m. - 3:40 p.m.
- Oct. 8, 8:20 a.m. - 3:40 p.m.

Patch Fitness Center:
- Oct. 7, 8:20 a.m. - 4 p.m.
- Oct. 8, 8:20 a.m. - 4 p.m.
- Oct. 9, 8:20 a.m. - 4 p.m.
- Oct. 10, 8:20 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Panzer Fitness Center:
- Oct. 9, 8:20 a.m. - 3:40 p.m.
- Oct. 10, 8:20 a.m. - 3:40 p.m.

The Community flu drive for family members, retirees, civilian beneficiaries and Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) is scheduled to begin Oct. 19 (tentatively pending receipt of pediatric vaccine).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publish guidelines for influenza vaccinations, and the Army will follow those guidelines in its annual campaign. For more information on influenza and the benefits of receiving the annual vaccination, visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/flu/.