FORT RILEY, Kan. - The initial supply of the H1N1 vaccine is expected to arrive at Irwin Army Community Hospital in the next few weeks.

In preparation for its arrival, a three-phase H1N1 campaign is underway. The three phases of the campaign are education, preparation and vaccination.

As Fort Riley enters its third phase - vaccination - Lt. Col. Paul Benne, chief of IACH's Preventive Medicine, urges people "to understand that the benefits of getting vaccinated greatly outweigh the possible associated risks."

"Yearly, influenza seasons have the potential to cause an increase in illnesses, doctor's visits, hospitalizations and deaths. Vaccines are the best tool to prevent the spread of influenza," Benne said.

The seasonal flu vaccine will not provide protection against 2009 H1N1 influenza. Additionally, the 2009 H1N1 vaccine is not designed to replace the seasonal flu vaccine, but is intended to be used in conjunction with it.

The H1N1 flu is expected to peak in the fall months of October and November this year. No shortage of 2009 H1N1 vaccine is expected, but initial availability of the vaccine will be controlled due to limited quantities.

IACH will begin by making the vaccine available to childcare providers who have direct contact with children. Once the demand for the prioritized groups is met and more doses are available, the vaccine will be widely distributed.

Priority groups include:

Aca,!Ac Pregnant women
Aca,!Ac Family members and caregivers of children less than 6 months old
Aca,!Ac Health care and Emergency Medical Services professionals
Aca,!Ac Children 6 months to 4 years of age
Aca,!Ac Others who are 5 to 18 years old and have long-term medical conditions

The peak months for the regular seasonal flu are January and February.

"IACH understands the frustration with interruption in supply of the seasonal vaccine. Contrary to popular belief, there is not a shortage in the seasonal flu vaccination. More seasonal flu vaccines will be manufactured this year, and IACH is temporarily awaiting a resupply," Benne said.

Health officials are encouraging everyone to stay alert and stay protected.

For up-to-date information, Soldiers and Family members should:
* Frequent the Centers for Disease control and Prevention Web site at or call 1-800-DCD-INFO.
* Pay particular attention to news alerts via television, radio and newspapers.
* Visit the IACH Web site at or call flu hotline at 784-240-4FLU.