HONOLULU -- Seasonal flu vaccinations for all Tricare-enrolled beneficiaries in Hawaii are now available.

"Each year in the U.S., approximately 25 million cases of influenza get reported," said Lance Golder, analyst, Military Vaccine Agency. "These cases result in about 150,000 hospitalizations due to serious complications and more than 30,000 people die from influenza annually in the U.S. alone. The seasonal influenza vaccine is one of the most beneficial tools in modern medicine for reducing sicknesses, deaths, health care costs and conserving fighting strength."

The Joint Vaccination Team coordinated multiple dates, times and locations to ensure vaccines are available, to include locations on Oahu military medical treatment facilities, installation exchanges and area schools.

"The influenza vaccine is particularly important for everyone living in Hawaii because we see influenza cases all year around," Golder explained. "It is important to remember that Hawaii is a gateway to the world. We have travelers arriving from both hemispheres where their peak influenza season may be in full bloom."

There are three types of vaccines that will be used in Hawaii this year. The first is FluZone, an inactivated single-dose syringe vaccine available for both adult and pediatric doses for patients 6 months and older. The second is Alfuria, which is an inactivated that comes in single-dose syringe and multi-dose vials for patients 9 years and older. The third is FluMist, a live single-dose intranasal vaccine that is available for patients between 2-49 years old. Older beneficiaries should be aware that military clinics will not have the intradermal vaccination or the high dose influenza vaccination for seniors (over 65 years of age).

In addition to the vaccine, there are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Some of the everyday steps you can take to protect your health include: covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth because germs spread this way; and try to avoid close contact with sick people.

Beneficiaries are reminded to bring their military identification cards and immunization records for their vaccinations. More information is available from your primary care provider, the Oahu Joint Services Flu Hotline (433-1FLU) or the -Fight the Flu webpage at www.tamc.amedd.army.mil/flu.

Vaccination schedule at installation exchanges
Vaccinations will be available to all Tricare beneficiaries at the following installation exchanges:
•Oct. 13, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Schofield PX
•Oct. 20, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Kaneohe Bay MCX
•Oct. 25, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Fort Shafter
•Oct. 27, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Hickam BX