Navy Maintains Readiness During Flu Season

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FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- Navy Medicine announced Jan. 15, its military treatment facilities currently have sufficient amount of influenza vaccinations to reduce the risk of the flu for servicemembers and beneficiaries despite the shortages experienced by its civilian counterparts.

According to public health experts, the greatest protection for flu comes in the form of vaccination.

"The flu can have a significant impact on readiness but vaccination is the best way to protect and reduce the risk of flu," said Cmdr. Natalie Wells, Public Health Emergency Officer, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. "Navy Medicine military treatment facilities currently have an adequate supply of flu vaccines available for servicemembers and beneficiaries."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicators suggest there is a good match between the circulating flu virus strains and the current 2012-2013 seasonal flu vaccine, meaning this year's vaccine will protect most recipients from contracting the flu.

Navy Medicine also emphasized that treatment is available for servicemembers and beneficiaries should they contract the flu.

"All influenza virus strains tested so far are responsive to antivirals such as Tamiflu," said Wells. "MTF pharmacies have adequate amounts of Tamiflu on hand and additional Tamiflu is accessible if needed."

Seasonal flu vaccination is mandatory for all DoD uniformed personnel who are not medically or administratively exempt.

Servicemembers and beneficiaries still needing a flu vaccination should visit their local MTF.

According to Wells, to date, 94 percent of active duty Navy and 90 percent of active duty Marine Corps servicemembers have received the flu vaccination.

In addition to receiving the flu vaccine, there are additional means of maintaining a strong immune system and readiness.

"Maintaining a clean work environment, good hygiene practices, and managing workforce exposure are some simple measures to reduce flu spread," said Wells.

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