Influenza Season

Wednesday September 14, 2011

What is it?

Influenza (the flu) is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza A and B viruses. Influenza illness generally causes mild illness such as fever, headache, sore throat and fatigue that typically resolves within a week. But some individuals can develop serious complications including pneumonia, sinusitis, ear infections, worsening of asthma and cardiac disease, and in rare cases death. In the United States, influenza kills an estimated 36,000 people every year, and results in more than 220,000 hospitalizations annually.

Why is this important to the Army?

Protecting the health of our Soldiers, beneficiaries and healthcare workers from this highly contagious disease is our main priority. Absenteeism due to illness or hospitalization could greatly impact military readiness and cause an economic impact to our families. Annual influenza vaccination is the most effective method for preventing influenza virus infections and its complications. Healthy people and health care personnel infected with influenza, including those without symptoms, can transmit the virus to those at high risk from complications of influenza. Vaccination of our Soldiers and healthcare workers protects not only themselves but those around them.

What is the Army doing?

Annual vaccination against influenza is mandatory for uniformed personnel and healthcare workers with direct patient contact. The inactivated or live vaccine is available and being administered at military medical treatment facilities (MTFs) and TRICARE retail network pharmacies. It is highly recommended that family members six months and older, pregnant women, those with high-risk medical conditions, all retirees and civilians age 65 and older be vaccinated. It is important to be vaccinated as soon as possible to ensure fullest immunity by the peak of the influenza season.

What should I do?
In addition to vaccination, people can prevent spread of the flu by:
- Covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throwing the tissue in the trash.
- Washing hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners also are effective.
- Avoiding touching their eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Avoiding close contact with sick people.
- Staying home if they become sick, until 24 hours after the fever is gone. This will avoid infecting others.

Resources:

MILVAX website

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Army Medicine

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Senior Leaders are Saying

"Our nation and Army are in a sea of continual change. This is nothing new to us and will not slow us down, nor will it detract from our mission focus in the future …The challenges we face will be tremendous, but we will not falter."

- Gen. David M. Rodriguez, while taking command of U.S. Army Forces Command(FORSCOM), lauded the Soldiers and family members of FORSCOM for their sacrifices and professionalism.

Rodriguez lauded the Soldiers and family members of FORSCOM for their sacrifices and professionalism.

What They're Saying

"Restoring sight to the blind is a very powerful humanitarian action. I am sure this mission has left a very favorable impression of the United States. I like to think of this as medical diplomacy."

- Lt. Col. Chad Nelson, U.S. Army South medical operations and plans, speaks with a sense of fulfillment about the U.S. Army South-led medical readiness training exercise's (MEDRETE) mission, focused on restoring sight to people in El Salvador.

- U.S. Army South mission brings light to seeing-impaired

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