By Steve Reeves, Fort Jackson LeaderOctober 22, 2009
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Fort Jackson likely won't get its allotment of H1N1 vaccine until mid-December, though officials still hope to vaccinate Soldiers before they leave for holiday block leave.
Col. Nancy Hughes, commander of Moncrief Army Community Hospital, said the H1N1 vaccine had been expected to arrive on post by the end of this month but that the shipment has been delayed.
Block leave begins Dec. 18. Soldiers will not be kept from taking block leave if they have not been vaccinated for H1N1, but will be confined to sick quarters if they have flu-like symptoms, Hughes said.
Hughes said personnel from the Army Center for Health Promotion and Wellness will be coming to Fort Jackson in the next several weeks to study when Soldiers going through BCT are at their most vulnerable for contracting H1N1.
Groups of Soldiers will be tested throughout the 10-week BCT cycle, in two-week intervals from arrival at reception to blue phase training to see if certain factors, such as lack of sleep, make it more likely for a Soldier to contract H1N1 at a particular time.
The study will help officials determine the best course of action to combat the spread of the virus.
"We'll see if we can figure out where our vulnerabilities are," Hughes said.
Fort Jackson has obtained a limited supply of H1N1 vaccine from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, Hughes said. Those vaccines will be given based on established priority guidelines.
Hughes said it is important that people on post continue to practice good hygiene, such as frequently washing their hands, and staying home from work if they have flu-like symptoms.
John Coynor, Fort Jackson's force protection officer, said as of Monday there were 18 Soldiers confined to quarters with flu-like symptoms.
Coynor said if Soldiers are unable to be immunized against H1N1 before block leave begins, that makes screening them as they return to post very important.
"Everybody who has symptoms will go to sick in quarters," Coynor said.
Vaccinations for the seasonal flu began earlier this month.
DHEC has established a 24-hour hotline to provide information about seasonal and H1N1 flu. The phone number is 211.